John Rebus, cranky Scottish policeman, has become one of my favorite contemporary fictional detectives. It took a book or two for him to earn his place in my imagination, but now I’m tickled the prolific Rankin uses him often. Rebus portrays himself as a cynic, a tired-old-policeman of a now forgotten world, but in his head he’s as sharp as ever.
Rebus is near retirement age, disliked by the police establishment where he’s made many enemies over the decades, yet highly regarded by those who recognize his old-fashioned police skills. He’s like an old hound dog, in the sense that he ferrets out truth and follows leads nobody else even realizes exist. More than once in Saints of the Shadow Bible, people tell Rebus they didn’t know he was even still alive.
Saints of the Shadow Bible is a complicated tale with a long backstory. Inhabited by interesting characters connecting in surprising ways, Rebus’ inability to go along with department rules creates tension at every opportunity. His relationships are tricky, evolving, but always interesting and often fruitful. For a guy holding most of his business meetings in pubs, Rebus gets a lot done.
Saints of the Shadow Bible is one of author Rankin’s finest efforts. He’s a superior wordsmith; his characterization and language is commanding. Settling in with John Rebus is a privilege; I didn’t want Saints of the Shadow Bible to end.