Title: Rather Be the Devil
Author: Ian Rankin
First published November 3, 2016
317 pages, Kindle Edition
Still haunted by the murder of Maria Turquand, John Rebus is pulled into an investigation that will take him to the dark heart of Edinburgh. As a major money laundering scheme threatens to unravel the city, Rebus must navigate the treacherous underworld of crime bosses and young upstarts vying for power.
But when a vicious attack leaves one of them weakened and vulnerable, Rebus begins to wonder if someone is playing a dangerous game. With old rivalries flaring up and new players entering the scene, can Rebus uncover the truth before it’s too late?
About the Author
Ian Rankin, also known as Jack Harvey, was born in the Kingdom of Fife in 1960. After graduating from the University of Edinburgh in 1982, he spent three years writing novels instead of pursuing his PhD in Scottish Literature.
In 1987, he published his first Rebus novel, which has since been translated into 22 languages and become a bestseller on multiple continents.
Ian Rankin has received many accolades throughout his career. He was elected a Hawthornden Fellow and has won the Chandler-Fulbright Award, two Dagger Awards for the year’s best short story, and the Gold Dagger for Fiction.
He has also been awarded honorary degrees from Abertay, St Andrews, and Edinburgh universities.
In addition to his writing, Ian Rankin has contributed to BBC2’s and presented his own TV series, , on Channel 4 in 2002. He was recently honored with the OBE for his contributions to literature, and he chose to receive the prize in his hometown of Edinburgh, where he resides with his partner and two sons.
Ian Rankin’s latest thriller, “Rather Be the Devil,” continues the gripping adventures of retired detective John Rebus. With 20 Rebus novels under his belt, Rankin proves himself an expert in the detective genre, and this latest book delivers everything fans have come to expect: a twisting plot, flawed but relatable characters, and a gritty setting in the Scottish city of Edinburgh.
Set in the present day, “Rather Be the Devil” sees Rebus pulled back into the dark world of crime when an unsolved case from his past resurfaces. At the same time, his former colleague Siobhan Clarke investigates the murder of a wealthy businessman.
The two cases collide in unexpected ways, leading to a pulse-pounding finale. Rankin’s prose is as sharp as ever, with evocative descriptions of Edinburgh’s streets and pubs.
While reading the book, one can practically smell the cigarettes and whisky Rebus indulges in. The dialogue crackles with wit and tension, particularly the conversations between Rebus and his longtime frenemy, crime boss Big Ger Cafferty.
As always, Rebus is a deeply flawed but likable protagonist, grappling with the consequences of his actions while still trying to do what’s right. Siobhan, too, is a complex character, navigating the male-dominated world of Scottish law enforcement with grit and determination.
One of the book’s strengths is its exploration of the intersections between past and present. Rebus is haunted by his earlier years as a detective and the mistakes he made, while a subplot involving a former rock star reminds readers of the price of fame and celebrity.
Rankin weaves these threads together seamlessly, creating a multifaceted commentary on human nature. That said, “Rather Be the Devil” does have some minor flaws.
The plot, while engaging, can be convoluted at times, and some of the secondary characters are not as well-developed as Rebus and Siobhan. There are also a few plot twists that stretch credibility, although fans of the genre will likely overlook these concerns in their eagerness to see how the story unfolds.
Overall, “Rather Be the Devil” is a solid addition to the Rebus series, and fans of detective fiction will be satisfied. It’s also worth noting that the book can be enjoyed as a standalone story, so newcomers to the series need not feel intimidated.
Whether you’re a die-hard fan or a newcomer to Rankin’s work, “Rather Be the Devil” is not to be missed. Washington Post gives this book 4/5 stars.