I’m a big fan of Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus series. His novels hit all my detective novel sweet spots- good writing, a good mystery and the location as its own character. This was an old one (published in 1994!) but it fell fortuitously into my hands while I was on a trip to the UK earlier this month.
Unlike most of the other Rebus novels I’ve read, Scotland is not the setting for this one- it has Rebus on loan to a London police precinct, where he’d been requested to lend his expertise on serial killers. The killer is nicknamed the Wolfman, and he/she (Rankin is coy and won’t let us assume either way until the climax reveals all) has been murdering women in northeast London before Rebus arrives to pitch in. The murders are followed by a viscious assault on the body that Rankin alludes to obliquely (a severe mauling/biting of more tender areas).
Although I was very caught up in the mystery while I was reading it, this may be one of my less favourite Rebus novels. I’m not sure what exactly left me wanting- I’m wondering if its because a lot of the plot feels dated now given the rise of cellphones and the gentrification of London’s Hackney neighbourhood? Or possibly its that Rankin’s Edinburgh is a more intimate gothic beauty and he doesn’t quite have the same feelings or ability to describe London in the same way?
I’m not sorry I read this one, and I wouldn’t dissuade Rebus fans from picking it up but I would pick another installment first if I was recommending Rankin’s novels to a Rebus newbie.