On a frosty winter's morning, DI John Rebus and a group of colleagues are in the company of an expert archaeologist on a tour of Queensbury House - an ex-hospital about to house Her Majesty's parliament in Scotland - when they stumble across a mummified body secreted behind a wall. Later that same day, a tramp jumps off the North Bridge though the glass roof of Waverly Station, a not unusual occurrence except that 'Supertramp' had in his possession a building society passbook with a balance of over $400,000 in it.
The two cases seem unconnected until a third death - of a high-profile prospective Member of the Scottish Parliament - is discovered in Queensbury House's disused summer-house. As Rebus and his hand-picked crew dig up secrets twenty years buried, it begins to look as if Scotland's second attempt at devolution though more successful will be just as dirty....
©2010 Ian Rankin (P)2011 Orion Publishing Group, Ltd
"Far too much 'rare-lish' from the reader"
I have greatly enjoyed other Ian Rankin/Jack Harvey books from Audible - notably The Complaints - as well as other Rebus books I've read in print form. However, I am struggling to stay with this one as the narration is completely over the top: as if the reader is doing a pastiche of a fruity old Scottish actor auditioning for the part of a fruity old Scottish actor. An already dense plot patchwork and a large-ish cast of characters require minimal embellishment in the narration. Rebus's mean streets need a lot less relish.
"Good story, shame about the reading."
This audio-book made me realise just how much difference the reader makes to what one thinks of a book. This narrator was the wrong choice. If he is Scottish, I am surprised, as his accent[s] were never convincing and I have to say that I was stunned at how many inhabitants of Edinburgh had accents from various parts of England. There were also too many areas where the narrator tripped up over where to stress a sentence and it was a struggle to make sense of what he was saying.
I don't know how much this influenced my appreciation of the book. I always enjoy Rebus, but am not sure that this was one of the best I have listened to. The Grieve family did not altogether convince me and I felt that there were unexplored back-stories [maybe they come together in a future book ...]. I also struggle with Cafferty - he didn't come across as sufficiently menacing and I don't know how much that was down to the way the book was read, or how Ian Rankin wrote it. But, in either case, whatever possessed Rebus to continually make himself vulnerable to him? I also thought that the process of identifying the murderer didn't quite work.
I like the setting in real time, the discussions around the birth of the Scottish Parliament and the harking back to previous periods in Scottish politics. Also the development of Siobhan. But I wasn't sure how convinced I was by the character of fellow-cop Linford. There is a good cast of supporting characters and, as ever, the city has a part all of its own.
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