Little, Brown, Feb 2003, 19.95, 448 pp.
Though he knows he should never have displayed his anger by tossing the coffee cup in front of his boss DCS Gill Templar, Edinburgh Inspector John Rebus finds the remedy for his short temper quite embarrassing. Gill has enrolled John in the Scottish Police College along side several other RESURRECTION MEN. The superiors of those attending this syllabus hope that some of these rogue officers learn teamwork. However, the assignment that the class works on together leaves John wondering if he is set up to take a hit or is he really to go undercover and find out whether his fellow disgraced pupils are on the take.
Meanwhile Detective Sergeant Siobhan Clarke discovers that her investigation of the art dealer's murder that led to the coffee cup incident is tied to Rebus's investigation as well as a strange connection to a crime boss. John and Siobhan soon see their cases merging and join the ranks to solve both of them.
It is ionic that this solid Rebus police procedural is well written but not quite at the great level of most of the previous novels in the series, yet is one of the better sub-genre entries. RESURRECTION MEN proves how talented Ian Rankin is as Rebus fans will appreciate the effort and newcomers will search for other novels by the author. Rebus remains an ornery delight as his regret for tossing the mug is not having done it in private. Though the second half of the story line seems wordy, the rank and file will relish an entertainingly vigorous investigative novel.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner
When Inspector John Rebus throws a mug of tea at DCS Gill Templer, he is assigned to the Police College at Tulliallan to re-learn the importance of team work. There he meets a group of senior detectives who may be 'bent' (corrupt). Meanwhile, newly-promoted DS Siobhan Clarke investigates the murder of an art dealer. Could the case be linked to the men at Tulliallan? And how is Edinburgh crime boss 'Big Ger' Cafferty involved?
This report prepared by Stephen Coombs
This is the thirteenth book in Ian Rankin's Inspector John Rebus series and neither Rankin nor Rebus
shows any sign of growing complacent or stale. Having said that, I should also point out that the Rebus
books are not written cookie-cutter style. Each is a work unto itself. Each shows Rebus, his colleagues
and friends, and Edinburgh in a bit of a different light. Rankin stepped back from Inspector Rebus in
Resurrection Men, not taking us inside his feelings and tortures quite so much as in other books. He is
directing our interest very subtly to character Detective Sergeant Siobhan Clarke, heir apparant to the
focus of the series when Inspector Rebus hangs up his warrant card in a few years.
A century ago the Resurrection Men of Edinburgh robbed graves to supply a medical college with cadavers.
Now, 'Resurrection Men' is the nickname for the group of detectives remanded back to The Scottish Police
School for being bad boys. Most are in their forties and fifties, thinking of retirement. They are all
in trouble for not playing according to the rules, not being team players, and for taking matters into
their own hands. Inspector Rebus becomes a member of the group after slinging a mug of tea at his boss,
DCI Gill Templar, during a stress-filled murder investigation update. While at the school, the
Resurrection Men are given an old unsolved case on which to hone and polish their investigating teamwork.
Rebus wonders if more than just a retuning of his attitude is going on when he realizes the case is one
that he worked and also one in which he kept a few facts hidden.
Meanwhile, back at Edinburgh's St. Leonard's cop shop, DS Siobhan Clarke, Inspector Rebus's protegè, has
taken over the investigation of an art dealer's murder that frustrated Rebus so much. Rankin shows off
his great writing abilities as we follow DS Clarke and DC Davie Hynds as they interview witnesses and
suspects. Not only are Clarke and Hynds brought to life, but each person they talk to takes on
dimension. We also see several times in different situations how one wrong word, one wrong question, can
turn a fruitful line of questioning into a dead end. Rankin shows us in these scenes how some cops have
a knack for getting the most out of witnesses and others don't.
Of course, Rebus can't stay out of the Edinburgh murder inquiry. Through the use of his cell phone and
leaves from the school, both official and unofficial, he keeps track of how things are going through his
trusted friend, DS Clarke. His interest is especially tweaked when his long time enemy, gangster "Big
Ger" Cafferty's name turns up in connection to the case. Rankin writes the scenes between Rebus and
Cafferty so well that the air crackles between them and one finds oneself gripping the book much harder
than usual until Rebus is safely away.
The plot of this book is meaty and complex. Rebus is involved in both murder investigations. The cases
stall then race ahead at different paces. Just when the reader is stumped by one case, it's time to look
in on the other and see some progress. The solution was a bit more neatly tied up than Rankin's usual
conclusions, but it was a delight to see everything suddenly fall into place and make good sense.
Rankin is beginning to bring DS Siobhan Clarke's inner character out into the light. She is more like
her mentor than she wants to admit. She has picked up some of his shrewdness and some of his angst. If
she can keep her profession from taking her life hostage remains to be seen in years to come. Can she
ever replace Rebus as the "star" of this series? I don't know but if anyone can pull it off, Rankin can.
Inspector John Rebus is the most intriguing, most fully formed, most memorable character I've met in
fiction. I can almost believe that if I knocked on the door of his flat on Arden Street in Edinburgh,
he'd answer the door, perhaps barefoot and bleary-eyed, with some great rock blaring from his stereo. Or
maybe I would see him in the Oxford Bar, drinking a few more pints than he intended, brooding over
Edinburgh's latest victim. Rankin is perhaps the greatest crime fiction writer in the world and fully
deserves all the accolades and praises he receives. He should win more awards, lots more awards. I
highly recommend this book and the entire Inspector Rebus series.
This report prepared by Vicky Shultz