four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
16-May-June-2005
By: 
Ian Rankin
user_rating: 
0

A-FleshmarketAlleyIn his illustrious career, Inspector Rebus has witnessed some of Edinburgh’s nastiest crimes. The 15th installment of the series takes him to Edinburgh’s shocking underground—the city’s red-light district, a seedy world of vice, and a trip into immigration law and corruption. A Kurdish refugee dies in a multiracial housing project; a notorious rapist is released from prison; a rape victim’s sister disappears; and Rebus, with colleague Siobhan Clarke in tow, discovers skeletons beneath The Warlock Pub in Fleshmarket Alley. Are these crimes related—or not? Either way, each one points to the terrible trade of smuggling people.
Little, Brown. 432 pages. $22.95. ISBN: 0316095656

Entertainment Weekly 4 of 5 Stars
"… [a] page-turner. … Full of wit and a wonderfully dry observational tone, Rankin’s postcolonial mystery is as multifaceted and masterful as the single-malt whiskey Inspector Rebus favors after a long day of sleuthing." Michael Endelman

New York Times 4 of 5 Stars
"It is in keeping with Rebus’s grudging manner that these novels are in no hurry to explain themselves. They take their own sweet time letting plots coalesce. … But the most substantial parts … are those involving the day-to-day interplay and camaraderie among investigators." Janet Maslin

Philadelphia Inquirer 4 of 5 Stars
"What really keeps the series as brisk and bracing as a North Sea gale, though, is that Rankin repeatedly puts Rebus into bloody, murderous situations that force the skeptical, set-in-his-ways policeman to reassess his pre-drawn conclusions, and grow. … Like Dirty Pretty Things, Stephen Frears’s recent art house film, Fleshmarket Alley is a tightly constructed genre piece that illuminates the human face of immigration, without stooping to preach or sacrificing entertainment value." Dan DeLuca

South FL Sun-Sentinel 4 of 5 Stars
"The insidiousness of racism is not a modern concept, but prejudice receives a 21st century spin as it seeps through the Edinburgh streets in Ian Rankin’s perceptive Fleshmarket Alley. … [Its] complexity smoothly builds into a police procedural that fully integrates character studies and an insightful look at Edinburgh." Oline H. Cogdill

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Rankin is intensely interested in Scottish psychology and sociology, and his cops, barmen, barristers, hairstylists, taxi drivers and stone-cold killers usually ring true, in part due to terse, dead-on dialogue. … You could call some of these traits noir cliches; when tweaked by a writer as artful as Rankin, they satisfy some deep, archetypal yearning." Peter B. King

Critical Summary

In Fleshmarket Alley (after 2004’s A Question of Blood, 3.5 of 5 Stars May/June 2004, and the Edgar Award-winning Resurrection Men), Rankin deals with horrific subjects: illegal immigration, racism, political asylum, bureaucracy, detention housing, and a networked criminal underworld. Described as "the Dickens of Edinburgh," Rankin explores the city’s fleshmarket—the trade in humans and plight of asylum seekers. His expertly plotted crimes come together as usual, and their confluence provides some of the book’s memorable moments. A great ear for dialogue and a deep look into the psychology of everyone from cops to murderers illuminate Edinburgh society. Even some formulaic elements barely dampened critical response to Rebus’s latest adventure.