Rating - Read (if not this novel, then something from this series)
My current aim is to find mystery novelist who is engaging. P.D. James was a favourite but her recent work just does not compare with her old stuff. I never took a liking to Ruth Rendell. I like Elizabeth George’s writing, but don’t like the usual pointlessness of the endings. So I have been trying and discarding various authors. After this book, it looks like Ian Rankin may just get further custom from me.
The story has the usual mystery/thriller settings. A popular and much-loved MP, Gregor Jack, is caught in a high-end Edinburgh brothel on the night the police decide to raid the place. Jack’s woes multiply when his wife disappears a little after. Inspector Rebus starts peeling Jack’s life and the circumstances surrounding the raid and the disappearance of Mrs Jack.
Strip Jack is advertised as an Inspector Rebus novel (I guess fans of Ian Rankin know this character as a part of a series). It was my first ride with Rebus and he comes out pretty Ok. Somewhat similar to P.D.James’s Adam Dalgliesh – tied to police work, taking it slow and easy when it comes to relationships, astute and broods a lot. Since Dalgliesh is one of my favourite detective characters, I took a shine to Rebus also quite quickly.
The story is set in Edinburgh, familiar landscape for the author. It is interesting to wander with the author within the city as also into the Scottish countryside. It is also strange to see London appear in the periphery somewhere, instead of taking centrestage.
The writing, like the main character, is sort of P.D.James but not entirely so. It holds your interest. Rebus’s wisecracks, wit and puns could have been annoying, but thankfully they stop before they are overdone. The interaction between the detective team is especially interesting, given the friendliness woven with the one-upmanship that would happen in real life.
When I was younger, the ending of a thriller always used to be a big thing. Now, I am past the stage where I look for a big ‘oh my gosh, I did not see that coming’. When the ending comes, it is nice to know it all ties up logically on why things went the way they did. By that count, Rankin handles the ending quite decently in this novel.
For anyone looking to explore a detective series, this seems like a promising author to check out. (Unless of course I am the last person to read Rankin – which is entirely possible).