Devil worship and murder in this early Inspector Rebus novel

Inspector Rebus

Detective Sergeant John Rebus (later Inspector Rebus) is pulled from a pressing murder investigation by his boss to become the front man in a new citywide campaign to combat drug trafficking. Since this leaves him with little to do, and since he is consistently an ornery sort, Rebus persists in his investigation even though another officer has been assigned to the case—and resents his interference. In fact, the other officer isn’t convinced that the death of a young heroin addict was a homicide, even though a witness insists it was.

Rebus’ involvement with the witness, a difficult young woman, leads him into an investigation of devil worship in Edinburgh. Meanwhile, his boss has taken him to lunch to meet with the wealthy businessmen who are funding the anti-drug campaign. Unsurprisingly, these two strands of the plot converge in a tension-filled tale of accelerating suspense. Reading Hide and Seek makes it clear why author Ian Rankin was encouraged to continue the series—and why it has gone on so long. Like Knots and Crosses, this is a superior police thriller.


Hide and Seek (Inspector Rebus #2) by Ian Rankin @@@@ (4 out of 5)


Rankin’s venerable series featuring Inspector John Rebus, now 21 strong, began 30 years ago when Rankin was a struggling 26-year-old writer. In the first book in the series, Knots and Crosses (reviewed here), and in Hide and Seek, the second, we meet Detective Sergeant John Rebus of the Edinburgh Police. Like his older incarnation, Rebus is a disagreeable sort, generally unpopular with his fellow officers. However, as Rankin explains in an introduction to Hide and Seek, “the Rebus we meet is still not the fully formed character of the later books. For one thing, he’s still too well-read, quoting from Walt Whitman . . . [and] from the Romantic poets . . . On his hi-fi at home, there’s jazz, but also The Beatles’ White Album (I’d soon have him preferring the Stones.)” In other words, Rebus’ character evolved all the while Rankin’s writing skill matured.

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