four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
27-Mar-Apr-2007
By: 
Ian Rankin
user_rating: 
0

A-NamingDeadAs world leaders gather at the G8 summit in Scotland in July 2005, antiestablishment Detective Inspector John Rebus, grumpier than usual, is staying away from the demonstrations, police activity, and general raucousness accompanying the G8 meeting and London suicide bombings. Then, a suspicious death and four murders suggest that a serial killer is on the prowl, and Rebus, sidelined from the summit, along with his friend and colleague Detective Sergeant Siobahn Clark, get drawn into the investigation. Unfortunately, Rebus is rumored to retire in a year, and few are excited to once again witness him clash with the world around him.
Orion. 432 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 0752868586

Globe and Mail [Toronto] 4.5 of 5 Stars
"With civic bravery comparable to that of Norman Mailer at his best, but with skills in plotting, pacing and creating dialogue superior to just about anyone writing in English today, Rankin refuses to allow journalists and pundits the last word on what those who marched that day were actually up against in the quest to create an egalitarian society globally." T. F. Rigelhof

Birmingham Post [UK] 4 of 5 Stars
"This is Rankin’s most ambitious book for several years and is flawlessly executed as he manages to juggle plot strands and characters with wonderful dexterity. If Rebus is to retire, as is rumoured, his colleague Detective Sergeant Siobahn Clarke is now supremely qualified to step into the old grouch’s boots." Mike Ripley

Coventry ET [UK] 4 of 5 Stars
"What follows is an examination by author Rankin of the nature of power. From the tiniest reciprocal favour between two people to the demands of global power-broking. And drinking and smoking his way through the thick of it is Rebus." Paul Allen

Independent [UK] 4 of 5 Stars
"It’s page-turning, complicated crime, with some fine vignettes containing the only convincing pathos in the book. It feels as if written on the hoof by someone running round with a microphone, collecting soundbites of humour, fury and moral angst—like Dickens on speed, highly enjoyable, but ultimately breathless." Frances Fyfield

Irish Times 4 of 5 Stars
"[A]thriller which combines the page-turning appeal of a modern police procedural with the moral complexity of a political drama. … [Siobhan Clarke is] a strong yet vulnerable character." John Boyne

Sunday Telegraph [UK] 4 of 5 Stars
"With Rebus books, the criticism is all relative. This is still the best crime novel you’ll read this year." Aileen Reid

Critical Summary

Critics fear that The Naming of the Dead, Ian Rankin’s 16th Inspector Rebus novel, may be the last we see of Rebus. After all, he’s aged in real time and, now 60, probably deserves to retire. Set against the violent but fascinating G8 summit meeting in Edinburgh, the police procedural continues to unearth Rebus’s psyche while exploring political themes and issues of power and personal responsibility. Because of its crossover appeal, compelling subplots, and moral complexity, many reviewers cite Naming of the Dead as perhaps the best in the series. Siobahn Clark comes into her own after her mother is attacked during the demonstrations, leading some to believe that when Rebus finally retires, she’ll step into his shoes. Time will tell.

Start of the Series

Knots and Crosses (1987): A serial killer haunts the streets of Edinburgh, and Inspector Rebus is on the case. He doesn’t yet realize that there’s a connection between the murders and a series of anonymous letters he has been receiving—and that he may soon be a target.