Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe
Hide & Seek: Ian Rankin, March 4—16, 2014
My rating: ♦♦♦◊◊
Rebus returns with a new job title. Now an Inspector, he’s single after splitting from Gill Templeton and on the hunt for a killer after a drug addict is found overdosed on rat poison.
Not a great deals happens in the first half of this book, with Rebus going over the same details and visiting the same crime scene over and over again. More threads are built in, but are never tied together satisfactorily.
Although this is another occasion of weak plotting, the characters are very well defined. Rebus himself continues to make for a brilliant lead. Marvellously flawed, unfailingly fallible and fantastically grumpy, he is a funny and relatable hero. The maverick divorcee isn’t an original idea for a detective, but he fits well into the classic mould.
Although Rankin would later regret some of Rebus’s early tastes, the character is nevertheless comfortable in his own skin. He’s authentic and believable, even if at a formative stage.
The supporting characters – Charlie, Tracy and Brian Holmes – are fabulous and each add to the richness of the novel’s cast. Even old Vanderhyde is expertly crafted in his sole scene. Only the wealthy elite are underdeveloped, and they all merge a little disappointingly into a rich heap of cash.
As with Knots and Crosses, this latest instalment grows more absorbing as it goes on, sucking you into Rebus’s world. The splitting of the text into days rather than chapters serves to emphasise the relentlessness of the case and the intimacy of our walk with the detective.
While some of Rankin’s writing is clumsy and is blatantly trying too hard, he is more often a brilliant writer who is learning his craft in front of our eyes with successive volumes. Only a poor finale lets it down, that feels bitty and underworked, but leaves great optimism for Rebus’s next outing.