Review

Dead Souls: An Inspector Rebus Novel (St. Martin's Minotaur Mysteries)

by Ian Rankin



Edinburgh, Scotland has all the same problems we have in a major
American city --- what we don't have here, and it's our loss --- is
Ian Rankin's Detective Inspector John Rebus. Fortunately we can
read about him instead.  

DEAD SOULS is Rankin's ninth Inspector Rebus novel, plus two short
story collections and one novella, yet here in the USofA we're just
catching on to how good these books are. So grab hold! If you like
mysteries, and perhaps even if you don't (try it, you might change
your mind), you have a treat in store.

When I'm reading one of Rankin's Rebus books it's like
hearing/feeling echoes that well up from someplace down deep. I
think that happens because I, like a whole lot of us Americans, am,
by heritage, a Scot myself. My ancestors came here by way of
Ireland in the 18th century. Who was it who said the Scots and the
Irish formed American character while the English weren't looking?
I can't remember, but I think it may be true. Certainly John Rebus
seems familiar, akin to the deepest and most difficult part of
myself: dour, disillusioned down to his toenails, yet moral to the
bone. A fighter who can't even make himself give up, not even when
quitting would be the most sensible thing to do.  

For example, toward the end of the book, a certain character says
to Rebus: "That's how it is these days, Rebus. Nobody gives a
shit." Rebus replies: "Nobody but me." And the other guy says:
"Nobody but you. Ever wondered why that is?"

Sure hit me right between the eyes. I expect DEAD SOULS will hit
lots of people right between the eyes, whether they're of Scots
descent or not.  

This complex, layered, beautifully written book has not one, not
two, but three interrelated storylines. To say how they are related
--- the common thread that weaves them together --- would give away
too much of the plot. It's that tightly written, which is no mean
feat on the author's part. We readers are in Edinburgh, with Rebus,
in the council estates that are so much like our American public
housing; we sit with him in his chair by the window where he falls
asleep alone most nights because he can't bring himself to go to
bed; we understand the isolation he feels from his significant
other, the aptly named Patience; we feel his sense of resignation
along with the drive that keeps him moving on until, literally,
there is no stone left unturned in the past or
present.  

In DEAD SOULS, even more intensely than in the previous books in
this series, we wrestle right along with the Detective Inspector
over some of the most troubling questions of our times, such as: If
the man's life had been different when he was a child, or if he had
not crossed paths with certain people in his adulthood, or if our
whole society were less bloody-minded, would he have committed such
terrible crimes?

These are questions well worth thinking about, and Ian Rankin is an
author more than worth reading. Buy DEAD SOULS, read it, and you'll
want to go back and read all the others too. Happily for us,
Rankin's backlist is now available from one of TBR's sponsors,
Amazon.com.

Dead Souls: An Inspector Rebus Novel (St. Martin's Minotaur Mysteries)
by Ian Rankin

  • Publication Date: August 15, 2000
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Mass Market Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
  • ISBN-10: 0312974205
  • ISBN-13: 9780312974206