Ian Rankin

Saints Of The Shadow Bible

"This is vintage Rebus."


Rebus has managed to return to “proper” policing, albeit as a Detective Sergeant as there was a surfeit of inspectors. He is still part of the Lothian and Borders police force, about to be transformed into two divisions. He is working with Detective Inspector Siobhan Clarke, and the new relationship sits awkwardly with both.

The distant past starts to catch up with Rebus when he is asked to a reunion of the unit (known as the Saints) working at Summerhall police station when he was just a lowly DC. Methods of policing were very different then and some of what went on sailed very close to the wind. Rebus was only on the fringes, but how much did he know? Malcolm Fox, from “the Complaints” is investigating a thirty year old case that was handled by the Saints and he would be only too happy to incriminate Rebus.

A car crash with an injured student, a fatal attack and robbery in the home of a minister in the Scottish Parliament, dealings involving a high-powered businessman, formerly one of Rebus' colleagues at Summerhall, all of these interweave and form an intricate pattern that Rebus and Clarke (and Malcolm Fox to Rebus' surprise) have to tease out. Professionally all is in flux as the start of the reorganisation of Scottish policing creeps up. Rebus is exhibiting signs of restraint in his own behaviour, even drinking lime and soda from choice on occasion, In essence though, Rebus is still the gritty determined character of old, with little respect for the new ways of policing.

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As always, Rebus is set very much in the present and the issues of the reorganisation of the Scottish police and the ever present dialogue between the Yes and No voters in the upcoming referendum on Scottish independence colour the whole story. Rebus has mellowed in some respects but at heart he remains a policeman of the old school with scant regard for authority and a strong desire for justice to prevail. This makes for a very interesting and gripping storyline. His colleagues have to earn his respect and the surprise is that his old enemy Malcolm Fox begins to do just that. The changing relationship between Siobhan and Rebus is also delicately handled. This is vintage Rebus - an exciting well planned story with an exuberant hero who is only slightly subdued by the effects of age and common sense. You get a sense that there is a 'new' Rebus fighting with the 'old' and that makes for exciting reading. But like many readers, I am secretly pleased that the old curmudgeon is back on the police force. We did miss him and pleased to see him back, putting streets of Edinburgh back to rights - even if not always following the rule book!

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