The Magazine for Crime & Mystery



Resurrection Men

Ian Rankin

Orion £17.99

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Reviewed by Ayo Onatade

In this latest book Ian Rankin has, to a certain extent, stepped back somewhat from showing us all Inspector John Rebus's feelings and tortures that have been clearly evident in the earlier books. Bearing in mind the fact that Rebus will soon reach retirement age and have to surrender his warrant card, Ian Rankin appears to be laying the foundation for continuing the series by directing our interest to Rebus's protégé, Detective Sargent Siobhan Clarke. As much as Resurrection Men still involves John Rebus it is also about the coming of age of DS Clarke and her ability to work without Rebus. It is therefore not surprising that DS Clarke has picked up some Rebus's bad habits as well as his cynicism. She is more like her mentor than she cares to admit.

The book takes its title from the fact that a century ago the Resurrection Men of Edinburgh were known to rob graves so as to supply a medical school with dead bodies. However, in this case 'Resurrection Men' is the name given to a group of men that have been sent back to the Scottish Police School for bad behaviour. Many of them are near retirement age, but they are all there because they are deemed not to be team players, not playing or obeying the rules and for taking matters into their own hands. Rebus becomes a member of this faction by tossing a cup of tea at his boss DCI Gill Templar, during a stress-filled murder investigation update.

While Rebus is undergoing retraining, DS Clarke has taken over the investigation of an art dealer's murder. One would be foolish to think that while Rebus is safely ensconced at the Police College that he would be able to stay away from the Edinburgh murder inquiry that frustrated him so much. With the aid of his mobile phone and the assistance of DS Clarke, Rebus manages to keep track of what is going on. His continued interest in the case becomes especially aroused when "Big Ger" Cafferty's name comes up. On top of all this Rebus and the other 'Resurrection Men' are given an unsolved murder to deal with in the hope that it will sharpen and perfect their investigating skills. The case that they are given surprisingly is one that more than one member of the team worked on (including Rebus) and one where he kept a number of facts hidden. To make things worse the Scottish Crime Squad need a linkman to act as a go-between with an informer who maybe able to give them inside information on Rebus's nemesis. They have decided that Rebus would be the perfect person. It is no wonder that Rebus begins to feel that there is more than just the readjustment of his attitude going on. But in the long run can he survive all of this?

What can one say about the Rebus books that has not already been said? Resurrection Men is, of course, an excellent book although I was to a certain extent disappointed in it. There was something lacking in Rebus. He appeared to be a lot more philosophical than usual and it was as if he had lost that griminess that one has come to associate with him. Maybe I just don't want Rebus to appear so mellow or is the thought of retirement weighing heavily on his brow? There are times in the book when you think how is Rebus going to get through this? I did not find the plot of this book as complex as I thought I would but that was not a hindrance. The solution was certainly a lot tighter than one has come to expect from Rankin and even though there were times that the cases appeared to stall and then proceed at varying paces, it is something that one has come to expect and accept. Despite all this Rebus remains one of the most enigmatic police officers going and Resurrection Men is as suspenseful as ever. Rankin certainly knows how to bring out the best and the worst of Edinburgh. This may not be his best Rebus book, but it is undoubtedly worth reading.

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