Wednesday, 30 August 2000

Ian Rankin: Let it Bleed (1995)

Edition: Orion, 1996
Review number: 589

Take out the laughs from the sitcom Yes Minister and you get something of the political world behind Let it Bleed. The Scottish local politics portrayed here are at best self serving and hypocritical, at worst criminal and corrupt.

As crime novels go, Let it Bleed falls squarely into maverick policeman territory, John Rebus being a particularly well drawn example of the streetwise cynical detective who inhabits this type of novel.

The story of Let it Bleed is sparked off by some rather strange suicides: two young men who jump off a bridge when cornered by police after a car chase, and an old convict who, when he is diagnosed as dying from cancer, is released early and goes to see a district councillor, shooting hiself in the head in front of him. Investigating what is going on in both these cases soon gets Rebus warned off, which naturally has the opposite effect to that intended, making him convinced that there is more going on than is immediately apparent.

The novel is extremely well written, and very Scottish in atmosphere, reminding me of some of the more thriller-like stories of Iain Banks, such as Complicity. It paints a dark picture of modern British life, containing many things that a lot of people would like to ignore if they could.

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