three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
10-May-June-2004
By: 
Ian Rankin
user_rating: 
0

An Inspector Rebus Novel

A-QuestionBloodIn the 15th Inspector Rebus novel, the titular policeman wakes up in a hospital bed with severely burned hands. That previous night, a fire had caused the death of a street thug who had been traumatizing Rebus's younger partner and friend, Detective Sergeant Siobhan Clarke. Now operating under a cloud of departmental suspicion (which isn't an unfamiliar position for the inspector), Rebus joins Clarke in investigating a seemingly open-and-shut case. Strangely, one of the victims turns out to be Rebus' second cousin.
Little, Brown. 406 pages. $22.95.

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"A Question of Blood is the most impressive of the Rebus novels I've read, it can certainly bear comparison with the best of today's American crime writing, and, for those who have not yet met the inspector, it's a good place to start." Patrick Anderson

Oregonian 3.5 of 5 Stars
"By the end of the book, Rebus must come to terms with the damage he has inflicted on himself and others. But for readers, it's nothing but pleasure." April Henry

NY Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"One of the real measures of how Rankin differs from the other practitioners of police procedural is that in A Question of Blood he doesn't pretend to answer the questions of what prompts random violence. It's to Rankin's credit that we are left with a bigger mystery at the end of the book than at the beginning." Janet Maslin

Plain-Dealer 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Edinburgh and its people come to vibrant life with details of everything from city streets to lamentable diets and tastes in music." Michele Ross

NY Times Book Review 2.5 of 5 Stars
"...by no means the best example of Mr. Rankin's plotting skills. This story means to be far ranging, but it winds up all over the map; there are enough strands of mystery for a diffuse investigation followed by a hasty tying-up of loose ends at denouement time." Charles Taylor

Critical Summary

Inspector John Rebus is, as always, a complex and genre-defining character. With burned hands and a dependence on malt liquor, his senses here have been dulled. That doesn't stop him from carrying this compelling novel, but not to heights as lofty as Rankin has reached previously. A few critics report that this entry in the series is not completely up to par. Others, however, call A Question of Blood one of the author's most dazzling displays yet. "Rankin does write violent guy-books, of course," attests the Washington Post, "but with such skill that anyone who appreciates good writing should enjoy them." If you haven't read an Inspector Rebus novel yet, here's your chance.