A “must read” for anyone who loves a dark, complex mystery 12

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It was with great pleasure that I was reacquainted with the former DI John Rebus in Ian Rankin‘s novel Even Dogs in the Wild.

Immediately drawn to the somewhat unusual title, I did some research and it comes from the hauntingly sad song by the Associates called ‘Even dogs in the wild’. The novel delves into the complex and dark world of murder, abuse, revenge crime, vendettas and more. The title is very apt.

Reading this latest Ian Rankin book was an unfolding of a panorama of old friends – reacquainting myself with the now retired Rebus, who is not enjoying the monotony of retirement, DI Siobhan Clarke (don’t call her ‘Shiv) and DI Malcolm Fox as they are drawn into a plot full of intrigue and complex undercurrents. 

Add to this the re-emergence of Big Ger Cafferty, the ageing former underworld crime boss of Edinburgh, as he is unwillingly sidelined by power-hungry younger new crime bosses who will do whatever it takes to grasp the seat of power. Clarke is focused on finding out why a murdered lawyer and Big Ger both received identical threatening notes before being shot at. Malcolm Fox, after his time in following up complaints, is now on secondment to a secret team who are intent on unveiling and defusing the threat of the takeover of outside crime bosses in their city. And who does the little wire-haired terrier left outside Big Ger’s house belong to? 

We find the main characters are the same, yet older and somehow more finely drawn. It is possible to be slightly sorry for the ageing Big Ger as he seems almost vulnerable and quite bewildered by his loss of power. Rebus is thrust into the action as a most willing consultant, often forgetting the boundaries that retirement from the force has thrust upon him. Siobhan Clarke seems the most unchanged in character – still focused and driven. We see a little of the inner world of Malcolm Fox as he deals with tragedy in his own family. 

As the plot tension builds, it intricately entwines all of the characters into the depths of the dark side of the human character. There are layers of intrigue, past horrors to be exposed and the ultimate price paid for complicity or silence. Rebus and Big Ger become unlikely allies in this fight against darkness, and we see an old, tired Rebus doggedly pursue his prey with the tenacity that only John Rebus can offer.

Ian Rankin once again ushers us into a complex world of human passion and the brutal ugliness of violent crime. The reader is intimately drawn into the minds of the people whose passion it is to bring darkness and crime into the light. This is a great comeback for Rebus and is masterfully written by Rankin. A must read.

Even Dogs in the Wild is available now from Dymocks.

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Karen Jones

Born in New Zealand, Karen now happily lives in the mid-north coast of New South Wales. She retired early due to ill health and now focuses on her love of walking, writing, reading and spending time with her grandchildren. With a degree in writing, Karen became a blogger and book reviewer for Starts at 60, which has enabled her passions to become enjoyable pastimes. Her recipe for bliss is a well made flat white, a friendly cat and a sea view.

  1. Really like Ian Rankins books I’ve read them all and many times. Poor Ian we readers won’t let Rubus retire we love him too much. I’m pleased the usual suspects are there especially Big Ger I’ve missed the horrid man. I’ll be reading this one, I’ve never been disappointed in Ian’s writing, he’s very consistent. Thanks for the info.

  2. I just tried to buy it but my logon doesn’t work. I’ve tried to reset it twice but I never get the email link.

    1 REPLY
    • Hi Barbara
      I’ve just rechecked the link to Dymocks and it worked, have you tried again today?

  3. I’m a keen Rebus follower, though haven’t read all of them yet. I love the way Edinburgh is so well described the city is almost a character. Thanks for a great review, Karen.

  4. Thanks, Karen. Yes, I ‘must read’ because, with one thing and another, I’ve missed the entire Rebus series. The only Rankin I’ve read was The Flood, 30-odd years ago and, from memory, a good read.

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