Did I ever consider Rebus as the comic relief of a Rankin novel? Did I ever think I would warm to “the complaints” finest, Malcolm Fox? Did I think that Rankin could get any life out of the beaten to death horse that is Big Ger Cafferty?
I am pleased to recount that the new “Rebus novel”, if one can honestly call it that, as the consulting detective makes more than ample room at centre stage for Clarke and Fox to take the lead, does not disappoint. Clarke never fails to function as a relatable and
thoroughly engaging window into a world dominated by male detectives who seem to always be conforming to a 2 sentence summary of their character. This is not to criticise the characterisation of Ian Rankin. I have no such desire. But it seems as though the male detectives he has chosen to be the focal point of his novels can be almost entirely defined by what they are NOT. Rebus is not a cop anymore, Rebus is not taking retirement very well. Fox is not is complaints anymore, Fox is not in his comfort zone, Fox is not like the others in CID. By contrast Siobhan Clarke is a character more certain of her self. She is ambitious, she loves her job, she is not in a perpetual state of inner conflict.
Another character rears his greying Fifean head early on in the novel. When I read those fateful words: “Big Ger Cafferty” on the back of the book I was full of trepidation. ‘This better not be a contrived waste of my time.’ I thought. I needn’t have worried. We saw Cafferty as the victim before in the Rebus novels (no titles mentioned in order to avoid spoilers) but never so directly as this. And never with so much at stake.
Rebus has not quite been relegated to the peanut gallery, but he’s not far off. But far from being an irrelevant nuisance I found myself giggling at the antics of the aging “consulting detective” in a way that can only work when an audience has grown to love an imperfect character for many years.
Fox is slowly endearing himself to me. Slowly… But there is something about the man that grates on me. I cannot help but feel like this may be intentional.
Any way…. “Even dogs in the wild” is a good read. It’s no Strip Jack but it’s well worth a read.
♤♡♢♧ morgan mushroom ♤♡♢♧

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