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10 thoughts on “Black and Blue

  1. says:

    I think the reason I like the Rebus novels so much stems from the fact that they have so much in common with American noir fiction than they do with the classic British whodunit Rankin s frontman is a hardened SAS trained , drinking man with sometimes dubious scruples but one who cares passionately about getting the job done which for him entails tracking down the bad men There s a lot of Rankin in Rebus they drink in the same pub Edinburgh s Oxford Bar , their music tastes seldom stray from progressive rock and their working class upbringing in Fife, just across the water from Edinburgh, has shaped both into the slightly cynical but sharp witted men they are.Rankin writes seriously about modern Scotland and has interesting views on topical at the time of writing events Here he points his pen at Scottish oil but in other books he s covered homelessness and the plight of asylum seekers amongst a raft of topics he s turned his attention to The city of Edinburgh is also a star of these books seen by many as a posh and civilised enclave where crime barely registers, Rankin shows us the underbelly of the city As Glaswegians like to say about their Eastern neighbours it s aw fur coats an nae knickers.As the book opens, we see that John Rebus is in purgatory He s upset his bosses again and has been posted to Craigmillar station, the toughest in the city Not that Rebus is likely to be tied down for any length of time its not long before he s wondering off on his own, well away from the public housing hotspots of this impoverished corner of the city In fact, he travels far and wide as discovery of a tortured body leads to links with the oil industry and, in a secondary plotline, he is on the trail of an imitator of the real life Glasgow murderer Bible John And just to throw another problem into the mix, John is being investigated for his part in an arrest and subsequent conviction some years before Time to get on the road and make yourself scarce, John.This book won Rankin the Gold Dagger for best crime novel of the year 1997 , awarded by the Crime Writers Association It s big and quite complex and the scale is vast lone wolf Rebus finds himself in Glasgow, Aberdeen, Shetland and the oil fields of the North Sea Unpleasant characters abound It s clever and wry and sometimes laugh out loud funny It s all of this and , but for me the beauty of the book is in the way the story is told so than the in story itself Rankin is a supreme wordsmith and a truly gifted literary writer Add to this the fact that nobody writes dialogue better than he and you just know you re going to have fun when you pick up a Rebus novel Is he the finest crime writer of his generation Maybe I d personally vote for James Lee Burke, but I think Rankin comes a very close second.


  2. says:

    Now this is how you write a really good crime novel Okay so the main character is a stereotypical alcoholic, antisocial cop but it is what Ian Rankin does with him that counts Rebus has developed over eight books into a man who does everything he can to catch his criminal frequently regardless of what his superiors might want or desire.Best of all, the book is constant action As I assume happens in real life police work, Rebus does not pursue just one crime for the whole book He is busy on several different fronts and gets to travel the length and breadth of Scotland, even managing a couple of helicopter rides to the oil rigs off shore I really enjoyed his relationships within each of the different police stations he is definitely not one of the crowd I found Black and Blue very difficult to put down and enjoyed every page of it.


  3. says:

    John Rebus gets in your face and hits you hard With drive, determination, emotion, stubborn attitude He is a liar and an honest person at the same time He takes life hard, rather a bleak and lonely outlook, has trouble with relationships, love, alcohol Always gets into trouble with his superiors But he s loyal to his colleagues, and a straight guy And he s a damn good detective I m not by definition a crime book reader, but the Rebus books I like Story lines and characters are always solid Hard reality, great scene description of the darkest corners of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen I was in Glasgow when I started reading this book and even recognized some of the spots lets say the lesser dark ones Most of this book plays in Aberdeen and the oil scene I ve said it again and will say it again, I love my Rebus Working my way steadily through the Rebus series and hope it doesn t stop for a while yet.


  4. says:

    It has been a while since I have indulged in some Ian Rankin crime fiction and this book has reminded me why I classify his books as pure escapism Despite being first published twenty years ago, this book has a lasting relevancy and an enjoyment that can be garnered from a contemporary reader used to, perhaps, a psychological twist to their crime fiction.Some aspects of this novel seemed particularly tried, like the gruff, alcoholic detective whose eyes we see this world through, but, for me, this only added to the enjoyment of the piece Certain parts of this adhered to what was expected from a 90 s crime novel, but there were still enough thrills and chills to keep me entertained.For if the characters felt a little stereotypical, the plot most certainly was not The lone wolf Detective Rebus traverses the cities of Scotland as a myriad of murder mysteries haunt his psyche and overload his workload A returned serial killer from the presumed dead A possible gang related killing A police force with perhaps than one source of income And a teneous urban link that connects them all.I loved how this novel acted as a running social commentary of its time the late 90s and the setting urban Scotland , and it was fascinating to me how different life was then, despite the mere twenty year gap between the setting and now The reader can learn much on the way politics, societal attitudes and technology has altered from this book, despite that not being its official usage.


  5. says:

    Black Blue es la octava entrega del inspector Rebus, y fue publicada en 1997 Ya ha llovido.Est considerada una de las mejores de la serie, y creo firmemente que puede serlo En esta entrega Rebus no ha descendido a n a los infiernos de sus demonios interiores, pero casi Sigue en estado auto destructivo, y los casos que lleva tampoco le ayudan a mejorar su humor Aqu se las tendr que ver con la industria petrolera del Mar del Norte, y por lo tanto tendr que viajar a Aberdeen, donde transcurre buena parte de la trama Y tambi n seguir la pista de Johnny Bible, que pretende emular los cr menes de su antecesor casi treinta a os atr s.Todo en una trama muy intrincada, que puede hacer que te pierdas un poco si no est s atento a la lectura, la cual no es de las m s f ciles sobre todo, si la lees en VO , pero s de las m s interesantes.En mi pr ximo viaje a Edimburgo har una parada en su bar favorito The Oxford bar , en Young Street, donde dicen que el propio autor es habitual entre los locales Tambi n Sean Connery suele dejarse caer de vez en cuando, aunque suele parar poco por esta bella ciudad que le vio nacer.


  6. says:

    What would series crime fiction be like without the clunky crap I ve wondered than once in the last 18 months, as I started reading of the genre than I had since my teens Answer It would be like an Ian Rankin.For over twenty years, I d assumed to some extent that his books must be overhyped and trashy, as a lot of thrillers are A ten year old list of 100 best Scottish books which included Black Blue at least gave me pause for thought and a vague intention to get round to him one day Rankin books are so ubiquitous that it seemed ridiculous to seek them out actively on some level I was waiting for them to fall into my lap at the right time The same attitude is responsible for my not having read of Armistead Maupin s Tales of the City series And it actually worked with Discworld books, when at university I knew numerous Pratchett fans I found this copy of Black Blue the only Rebus I d have considered reading out of series order, and complete with the 90s early 2000s cover, which to my mind is what Ian Rankin novels should look like in holiday accommodation, when, as I d read a few Scandis reportedly influenced by Rankin, not having read him was starting to feel like a gap in my knowledge.In fairness, I ve not read any Martin Beck or Wallander, the other major influences on recent Nordic thrillers Nor was John Rebus the first drunk maverick loner detective But and especially by comparison with all the later ones I want to give him the Kellogg s slogan Original and best. And this is the eighth book in the series by that stage most series authors have a disintegrating dead horse on their hands, yet Rankin was starting to peak The only books I ve read comparable to this are a few John le Carr s both use genre tropes, but those tropes are alive, entertaining and made original in the hands of these authors than when churned out by the rest of the hacks.In the intricacy but never inaccessibility of its intertwining plot strands, Black Blue beats Booker nominated thriller doorstop The Kills hands down Makes it look so easy And makes it look like other crime writers are padding out their novels with long scenes of moodily starting into space this is 500 pages and Rebus is rarely doing that for than a couple of sentences There s too much happening to waste page time on that, regardless of how the character s feeling and that is conveyed succinctly The kidnapped guy who launched himself out of a window in one of Edinburgh s most run down estates the Glasgow gangsters the oil slick corrupt goings on in Aberdeen the internal investigation into an old case a stint giving up the booze serial killers old and new And fictional and real Bible John didn t hang over the West of Scotland to quite the extent Hindley and Brady do over north west England, but there s something of that Especially if you ve met people of the victims generation Taking the narrative viewpoint here close third of a real person and making it believeable is by no means easy I saw a lacklustre attempt to narrate as Greta Garbo in a short story last week but Rankin pulls it off and makes it utterly convincing Fictional maverick cops are frequently in trouble with their bosses, but it s very rare to see one be forced to empathise so closely with suspects, to have his greatly valued, solitary boundaries invaded as does Rebus here and it s the quality of writing that does that over and above mere storyboarding Many times, Rankin throws new light on events typical of crime fiction.We re obviously in a nearby parallel universe of Thrillerland, but it all works, it never seems contrived, rather it s impressive Covering three major Scottish cities, Shetland, and some lands between, Black and Blue is also a panorama of the country and its local cultures And of a point in time areas in the process of regenerating with flash new buildings, on a cusp between old and new centuries, tired old Tory rule and the brink of New Labour and the Scottish Parliament the topicality of the first plans for oil rig decommissioning very occasional use of email and cellphones by a couple of characters, but a lot of scrabbling for payphone coins and calling your home answering machine and the space and silence and escape you could still get just before everyone had portable digital thingies It s a fairly androcentric world police force recalls what a novelty Prime Suspect once was whilst Rebus and some, though certainly not all, of his colleagues are non sexist, without being unconvincingly right on Sometimes the sense of the era is in the little details, like the use of the word New Age, about merely enjoying the view of a sky, or about travellers and the spot on choice of having a left wing guy in his twenties carry around a copy of Iain Banks Whit in his rucksack It knows it s only half zeitgeisty, because Rebus is older than his author, and both his job and he as a personality are somewhat detached from the buzz and Rebus sometimes regrets having missed pop cultural moments during his years in the army, but these lacunae make him part of his own small subculture with others like himself Rebus may be a recognisable archetype, yet he s drawn so very well unlike the other lazy, blurry impressions of his sort elsewhere that he feels real than the characters in most books I ve read this year There s a certain kind of grumpy, dark mood that I feel can only be adequately externalised by sulking about with drink and cigarette, most probably in a pub, and Rebus rapidly became one of the characters I m very happy to have do this for vicariously I ll probably need of him in the coming months Just as well there are over 20 books It now seems idiotic to have shunned this series for so long but it does mean there s a feast to enjoy Even among my favourites and 5 star books, I can t remember previously understanding why anyone would say I envy people who haven t read X yet, and still have the pleasure of discovering it but over the last few days, whilst not everything has been easy, when reading Black and Blue, I often felt almost as I have done on favourite social occasions savouring a peak moment and feeling nostalgia even whilst it s still happening.


  7. says:

    Gold Dagger Winner, 1997 This book almost killed me So I m glad there s been some recompense Ian Rankin, January 6th 1998.Rankin s coming of age, hard boiled police procedural is one of my all time favourite crime novels Serial killer Bible John murdered three people 30 years ago, and then disappears He s back or is it a copycat, nicknamed Bible Johnny, by the press Rebus has his hands full with solving the murder of an oil rig painter and he s under investigation for planting evidence in an old case But the real plot takes place within the mind of Rankin s enigmatic protagonist, DI John Rebus Rebus is an obsessed maverick, a tenacious drunkard, a selfish father, and an egotistical ex husband Black Blue is set in Edinburgh Aberdeen, the cities scarred, scrabbled souls as poignant as Rebus s own.Rankin is one of the most gifted storytellers and Black Blue is one of the most brilliant stories I ve ever read If it were not seen as a genre book, I believe that Black Blue could win a prize in any literary competition Rankin juggles his characters, his words, his plot and his story with the skill of a writer at the height of his craft The twist at the end is terrifying in its ordinariness The scary thing about Ian Rankin is that he keeps on getting better.


  8. says:

    So far the best Rebus novel of the 8 I have read In this novel, Rankin uses a story he heard from a friend and builds up a whole narrative which is amazing John Rebus is mobile , he takes us all around Scotland in this book From Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, to the Shetlands and the oil rigs in the Atlantic There are four crimes in this 500 pages novel Rankin s most ambitious so far as I am reading the series one books at time The four crimes connect the past to the present A Bible John and his son Johnny Bible. Who is watching who and who is learning from who And why would someone jump in a chair from a third floor building A prank or an assassination Rebus is joined in this book with his friend from Knots and Crosses Jack Morton This book is a wonderful example of Tartan Noir.


  9. says:

    This is the first Inspector Rebus book I have read and I found it enjoyable, if a little exhausting The plot was interesting, the characters were well drawn, but this was not an easy read I had trouble following some of the twists and I truly don t believe alcoholic anti social individuals make good detectives I will give Rankin another try Hopefully I won t feel like I ve been through a 12 round boxing match.


  10. says:

    Up we go to five stars Rankin is the master, and here s where he hits his stride.Yesterday afternoon, I handed in an almighty huge work project that I ve been plugging away at for two months In celebration, I took the evening to myself bubble bath, glass of whisky, Rebus Exactly how these things should be done I read til the water got cold And it was great.This is the book where Rankin started to really get noticed, and it s also the book that reminds me how much I adore this whole genre a collection of mysteries not so much interwoven as to mix my metaphors plates spinning dangerously close to each other Character is layered on puzzle, on character again Setting looms large Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen Scotland as a nation is both self aware and self absorbed in a way that England just isn t, or I think so and I think it s partly because of these types of novels, where characters just hang out in the major Scottish cities, and get to know everything about them Characters just don t do that in Birmingham, Newcastle, Portsmouth Maybe Manchester a bit London for definite, but that s a different matter Scottish literature seems somehow geographically introspective than anything south of the border I can t comment on Wales I ve not read enough Welsh set literature to know one way or the other I suspect, however, that Northern Ireland is like Scotland in this respect In the last few years, I ve written a forever going to sit in a drawer and be a reminder of my own failings slash growth novel set in Southampton, and it s probably a clich these days but I d like to write one set in Edinburgh as well Both of those places are important to me Reading Rankin, Spark, Dunnett you may keep Irvine Welsh, I m afraid , I realise quite how much there is to live up to here, compared with any other city Reading Black and Blue, I realise it all over again.Read it for technical brilliance and the most practised hand at genre you ll have come across in a while.Read for Tartan Noir Month, 2015.