cover of A Question of Blood

A Question of Blood
Ian Rankin
440 pages
published in 2003

This is the 14th novel in the Inspector Rebus series and the 5th I've read. As such, this holds no surprises. As usual, Rebus is in trouble, as usual his private life is non-existant and his current relationship is going nowhere, as usual the case he's working on is more complex than it seems at first sight and as usual it resonates into his private life... His collegues may change, get transferred or promoted, for Rebus everything stays the same.

This lack of progress can make for tedious reading; it's one of the reasons I didn't finish the previous Rebus novel, Resurrection Man. Fortunately however, the writing and plot are much stronger, much more interesting in A Question of Blood. Also, after having read mainly science fiction for the past month or so, I was in the mood for something realistic and gritty, but still fictional. Which is what the Rebus novels excel in, in providing a gritty, realistic police drama which is entertaining enough to not be too taxing.

The plot revolves around a school massacre, another Dunblane. In South Queensberry, an ex-army loner just walked into a private school, killed two pupils, wounded a third, then killed himself. A senseless kiling spree, but it still needs to be investigated. The investigation is headed by one of Rebus' old friends, DI Bobby Hogan, who has asked him to lend a hand.

Rebus is all to willing to do so, as he is in a bit of hot water at home. A petty thug, Fairstone, has turned up dead due to a chipspan fire, a common occurrence; what's not so common is that he was tied to a chair... The very next day Rebus turns up with fire burns on his hands; he said he had an accident with a slightly too hot bath, but who believes him? Not when he was seen drinking with Fairstone the very same night of his death and Fairstone had been harassing one of Rebus friends, DS Siobhan Clarke. A typical Rebus muddle.Course, neither the school killings nor Fairstone's death turn out to be as straightforward as they seem at first, as you would expect from a Rebus story.

One of the better Rebus novels I've read so far. As with most of them, to be read as much for the atmosphere and the characters as for the plot. Recommended.

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Webpage created 29-04-2004, last updated 15-08-2004
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