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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

The Naming of the Dead

1. Family relationships of various sorts occasionally come to the foreground in The Naming of the Dead. Discuss the implications for Rebus and for Siobhan of the inexorable “tug of family.”

2. Siobhan’s parents are described as being of the same generation as Rebus. Does their presence remind her uncomfortably of the age difference between Rebus and herself?

3. “Rebus knew his place in the food-chain: somewhere down amongst the plankton, the price for years of insubordination and reckless conduct.” How true is this statement?

4. At the peace camp Siobhan finds herself in a world unlike the one she’s used to. To what extent is she able to blend in with the people she encounters?

5. Real celebrities and politicians are glimpsed in The Naming of the Dead. If you’ve read other Rebus novels, do you think the presence in the novel of these famous real-world figures affects Ian Rankin’s usual narrative style in any way?

6. How important is the detailed countdown to G8? Does it add poignancy, given the knowledge that July 7, 2005, was the date of the real-life London bombings, which are also acknowledged in the story?

7. What are the implications of the developing relationship between Siobhan and Cafferty? Might it make Rebus, in some way, feel a bit jealous?

8. Discuss the different types of victims in The Naming of the Dead. Why is their naming so important, and what is Rebus’s response?

9. Discuss Siobhan’s reaction to her mother’s being injured during the march.

10. “She’d nodded, given him a wink and a smile. Gestures she’d learned from him, used whenever he was planning on crossing the line.” Is Siobhan planning on crossing the line?

11. Consider the portrait of Edinburgh that emerges in The Naming of the Dead. How does it differ from the way Edinburgh is portrayed in other Rebus stories?

12. What provokes Siobhan into ringing her parents and arranging to see them? Is it fear of becoming like Rebus?

13. Even Cafferty is taken aback by the bombings. Is this because it’s a case of “new” crime versus “old” crime?

14. Is there an element of natural justice in Rebus’s actions that close the book?

The Naming of the Dead
by Ian Rankin

  • Publication Date: November 15, 2010
  • Genres: Fiction, Police Procedural
  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books
  • ISBN-10: 0316099260
  • ISBN-13: 9780316099264