29 April 2012

Review: THE FALLS, Ian Rankin - audio

  • printed version published in 2001
  • Book 12 in the Inspector Rebus series
  • audio version: Orion Audiobooks
  • length: 16 hours 35 mins
  • narrator: Samuel Gillies
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

A student has gone missing in Edinburgh - completely out of character. She's not just any student, though, but the daughter of extremely well to do and influential bankers.
There's almost nothing to go on until Detective Inspector John Rebus gets an unmistakable gut feeling that there's more to this than just another runaway spaced out on unaccustomed freedom.
Two leads emerge: a carved wooden doll in a toy coffin, found in the student's home village, and an Internet role playing game. The ancient and the modern, brought together by uncomfortable circumstance and a curmudgeonly detective happier with long playing records than digital technology.

My take

Nothing is ever simple in an Ian Rankin book, particularly not in a Rebus title. A complexity of inter-tangled plot lines introduce a plethora of interesting characters, romance for Rebus, and some topical issues mixed in with a little local history.

I get the feeling THE FALLS was written specifically to delight Edinburgh residents. The missing student has been playing an online game with complex cryptic clues. The answers are places to be found in or near Edinburgh.

We listened to THE FALLS in weekly episodes of about 2 hours at a time. In that sort of regime, the possibility of forgetting plot elements is fairly high. One of the things I found a bit frustrating is that, as always with an audio book, it is difficult to thumb back and check up on some information you barely remember.

Nevertheless an enthralling story.

My rating: 4.5

Other Rankin titles reviewed on MiP:
4.4, WITCH HUNT - writing as Jack Harvey


THE NAMING OF THE DEAD, my rating 4.8
A reminder that Ian Rankin is not just a good murder mystery writer, he is one of the best. He gives his novels an authenticity by staging them against political backgrounds and events that are part of our world. THE NAMING OF THE DEAD is played out against the meeting of the G8 conference in Edinburgh in 2005. From the ramparts of the Castle, on the night of the conference dinner, a young MP falls to his death in the gardens below. D. I. John Rebus has been excluded from the G8 preparations, although he is at Gleneagles to see George Bush fall off his bicycle, and so he is available for the investigation. Simultaneously a serial killer leaves clues about three deaths at a "clootie well". The usual characters mesh together - Siobhan Clarke's parents are involved in the G8 demonstrations and marches, Big Ger Cafferty as usual has his hooks into everything and then are a host of new people who both assist and impede Rebus' dogged investigation. And underlying all, Rankin the politically aware, social commentator, letting us know that he is not just a good murder mystery writer…

EXIT MUSIC, my rating 5.0
John Rebus is facing his last week in the police force. He will turn 60 in 10 days and is legally required to retire. He has no vision of what he will do in retirement and is determined to work as he's always done, right to the end. Late at night, at the foot of Raeburn Wynd the body of a Russian poet is discovered. So solving this crime will be Rebus' last case. But there is so much more to be resolved. Rebus' biggest unfinished business is with Big Ger Cafferty. He would dearly like to put Cafferty away forever, but is that going to be a legacy he will leave to DS Siobhan Clarke? And Shiv has problems of her own. Will she just move into Rebus' job as Detective Inspector and if she does, who will she choose to be her new partner? In a sense this, their last case together, is an important test for her too, made all the more important when DCI MCCrae decides that DS Clarke will be in charge of the case, with Rebus as a sort of mentor - if a loose cannon can ever be a mentor. Rankin manages to bed this case against the issues of real time Scotland, focussing on Scottish independence, an issue that dominated the Scottish elections of 2006.  Not a short read, but certainly an engrossing one. It left me hoping against hope that this isn't the last we see of Rebus!

If you are new to the Rebus series here is a list of the titles to look for in order of publication.

1. Knots and Crosses
2. Hide and Seek
3. Tooth and Nail  aka Wolfman
4. Strip Jack
5. The Black Book
6. Mortal Causes
7. Let It Bleed
8. Black and Blue
9. The Hanging Garden
10. Dead Souls
11. Set in Darkness
12. The Falls
13. Resurrection Men
14. A Question of Blood
15. Fleshmarket Close  aka Fleshmarket Alley
16. The Naming Of The Dead
17. Exit Music


Marce said...

I have Exit Music on my Wishlist, everyone rates it high, i'm intrigued. I didn't realise it was part of a series though, not up for starting from the beginning on such a long series.

Thanks for the reviews.

Irene said...

I haven't read any of these books, but they sound very good. I haven't been able to really get into audio books for that very reason. Glad I'm not the only one.


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