Friday, 9 October 2015

Brianna Reviews // Mortal Causes by Ian Rankin

Published: 1st September 2005 (first published: 1994)
Publisher: Orion
Format: Paperback
Synopsis: In Edinburgh you're never far from a peaceful spot, or from a hellish one either. Now, in the heart of summer, in the midst of a nationalist festival, Inspector John Rebus is on the murder case of a young man left hanging in a spot where his screams would never be heard. To find the victim's identity--and his killer--Rebus searches from Edinburgh's most violent neighborhood to Belfast, Northern Ireland--amongst petty thugs, gunrunners, and heavyweight criminals. But before Rebus can get to the truth, he's bloodied by the dream of society's madmen--and staring into the glint of a killer's eyes.

Firstly apologies for there being no review for The Black Book (No. 5 in the series) I read it mid-2014 and didn’t review it at the time and I don’t think I could adequately review it now from memory. I did enjoy it, though the lack of review is not a reflection on the quality of the story or writing.

Now onto Mortal Causes, I got stuck in a rut of reading the through the same series (Kathy Reichs), and if I can tear myself away from it I like to mix them up because I find I enjoy and remember the individual books more so enjoying the crime genre I thought it about time I pay Rebus a visit.

As far as I can remember this is the first book that has coincided with the Edinburgh Festival, but that doesn’t make Mortal Causes light or fluffy, Rebus contributes a little black humour though as he always does. A body has been found in Mary King’s Close a buried street which at the time of writing wasn’t open to the public (but is now a tourist attraction), the style of murder screams IRA to Rebus. The victim is the son or ‘Big Ger’ Cafferty a gangster that Rebus arrested and put in prison in The Black Book and on top of that a friend asks Rebus to look into a Youth Club in Edinburgh’s roughest estate. 

I don’t know if it a lack of memory of The Black Book but when I picked up Mortal Causes I felt like I’d missed something, so much so that I picked up The Black Book and skimmed through the last chapter. No I definitely didn’t miss anything, last I read Rebus and Patience Aitken were not together, yet at the start of Mortal Causes they are together, as if nothing happened, okay so it isn’t perfect and they are on the rocks a bit but this is Rebus, perfect harmony was never going to happen.  I do regret a little that I didn’t read this sooner after The Black Book because I really struggled to remember Big Ger, I eventually did… sort of… he killed some people and covered it up by burning down a hotel? That may not be factual but that sadly is the extent of what I remember of him, which is a shame because I really like the fact that he was brought into this book, Rebus lives and works in Edinburgh so you would expect that from time to time events would have something to do with someone Rebus has dealt with previously. Big Ger presents Rebus with a bit of a moral dilemma, not that rebus needs help with moral dilemma as he is frequently treading the line between right and wrong, however I think Rebus manages to stay on the right side of his moral line… just.
On the subject of series continuity Matthew Vanderhyde makes another appearance, I find that I really like him as a character, he makes me smile, I'm not entirely sure why.

I have to admit that the politics of Mortal Causes left me a little bit lost, maybe it’s an age thing I was 3 at the time it was published, which means it’s most likely set a year or two before that or maybe it’s because I have never really understood the Catholic / Protestant divide.

Even though the politics lost me a bit I enjoyed the book, it felt comfortable, by this point I’m well acquainted with Rebus, his colleagues, Brian Holmes, Siobhan Clarke, Farmer, Lauderdale and Flowers are all familiar, even his rocky relationship with Patience is comfortable. Meaning that his temporary assignment to Special Branch and the accompanying new faces doesn't really affect the familiarity of the book.

I admire the way that Ian Rankin makes the way Rebus's favour for the priest and the murder case tie together feel like a natural connection.  Although I do think the plot with the woman from the courts (I can’t remember her name) was a little bit unnecessary, although she did lead rebus onto the right track with Sword and Shields, but surely thing could have been done without her because to me I didn’t feel like she added anything to the story.

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