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Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

"A Question of Blood" by Ian Rankin

Detective Inspector John Rebus is in hospital with a pair of has a pair of bandaged hands when his sidekick Detective Sergeant Siobhan Clarke tells him that a criminal with whom Rebus had been seen drinking the night before has been burned to death and that two schoolboys have been shot to death in the common room of their public school. These cases both look open and closed: Rebus was on the scene and has scalded (or were they burned) hands; and there is an ex-SAS soldier gunman with the two dead boys who shot himself. But as Rebus and Clarke seek for the gunman's motive, as usual, all is never quite as it seems in the world of Edinburgh crime.

Another classic outing for one of the better detective series.

In fact there is a moment when Rankin transcends his genre. John Rebus goes to Alan Renshaw, the bereaved parent of one of the boys in the school shooting, who happens to be his cousin. He finds him in the loft, playing with his dead son's discarded racing car track. The two men play with the kit for a while until reminiscence gives way to anger. This scene provides one of the very best  portraits of the grief of a bereaved parent that I have read.

The many bits of business possible for a character with heavily bandaged hands is a master-class for novelists. Lighting a cigarette and lifting a glass to his mouth (favourite occupations for Rebus) offer original descriptions; wearing gloves elicits 'fascist' comments; Rebus needs Clarke to drive for him.

Rankin is also particularly good at providing a new twist on sayings. Many of these are too diffuse to quote but they offer an original way of viewing the character.

  • "Patience: the one thing he had no time for." (C 1)
  • "The woman was not cooking with a full set of saucepans." (C 13)
  • "The kettle's trailing the pot one-nil at half-time." (C 14)


Other interesting quotes:

  • "Inside, the flat was musty. There was a fug which could have been bottled as eau de Bachelor." (C 3)
  • "What was he watching for? Because it satisfied the voyeur in him? He'd always enjoyed surveillances for the same reason: glimpses into secret lives." (C 16)

A great addition to the Rebus corpus. I also recommend:



November 2018; 440 pages

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