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Dead Souls by Ian Rankin - Book Review


Dead Souls
Ian Rankin

Fiction-Net Rating 2 Star Rated Book

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Cover Story

A call from an old friend brings back memories and more than a little guilt for DI John Rebus of the Lothian and Borders police. Suddenly it seems Edinburgh's streets are crowded with the lost and forgotten.

Stalking a poisoner at the local zoo, Rebus hits upon a freed paedophile, camera in hand. Outing the man rouses the vigilantes and leaves Rebus with mixed feelings and another weight on his conscience. But the straw that looks like breaking Rebus' back comes courtesy of the US government. Feted by the tabloid press and put under Rebus' watchful eye, a convicted murderer is looking to play games with DI John Rebus as his pawn.

We Say

This is number ten in the series of novels featuring Inspector Rebus. I would guess that to really appreciate this book you need to have read at least some of the other nine. Unfortunately, I haven't. Also, I'm not a big fan of crime writing generally - it has to be something totally different from the usual format in order to stand out and attract my attention. Complicity by Iain Banks would be a good example. However, Dead Souls didn't really stand out in any way - it is well written and the narrative fast-paced but I still found it dull.

Inspector Rebus is everything I hoped he wouldn't be - a tough-as-old-boots renegade policeman, a hard-drinker who knows more about what goes on down on the streets than his few superiors who sit behind desks all day. There is only a hint of sensitivity buried deep inside him - this is crassly indicated by a failed marriage, a daughter in a wheelchair and a reunion with a long-lost love.

The character of DI John Rebus should come with a cliché warning attached. The same could be said for other characters - his stuffy superior, the slimy journalist, the battleaxe mother from the flats and any number of the male characters, running around with vendettas and scores to settle.

Just as the characters are run-of-the-mill, the plot holds no surprises - a suicide (murder?), a teen runaway and the topical issue of a paedophile in the community. Fans of this sort of thing may love the book - involving themselves totally in the drama of 'whodunit' and the question of will the good guy get his man? However, for me, there has to be something else to latch onto and although I did enjoy the dialogue and some of the darker descriptions of life in Edinburgh, I didn't feel that other elements of the novel lived up to the level set in the style of the writing.

Review by: Rachel Taylor

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