Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Saints of the Shadow Bible

by Ian Rankin
Orion (7 novembre 2013)
Vendu par Hachette Book Group Digital, Inc.
352 pages - 27.78 $

Ian Rankin came to QuébeCrime Festival and that's how I've learned about him. His main character, Rebus, even has his own TV series. So when I saw that his last book was on NetGalley, I jumped at the chance to FINALLY  know his character. Thanks NetGalley and Little Brown and Company for the book! 

The blurb

Rebus and Malcolm Fox go head-to-head when a 30-year-old murder investigation resurfaces, forcing Rebus to confront crimes of the past

Rebus is back on the force, albeit with a demotion and a chip on his shoulder. He is investigating a car accident when news arrives that a case from 30 years ago is being reopened. Rebus's team from those days is suspected of helping a murderer escape justice to further their own ends.

Malcolm Fox, in what will be his last case as an internal affairs cop, is tasked with finding out the truth. Past and present are about to collide in shocking and murderous fashion. What does Rebus have to hide? And whose side is he really on? His colleagues back then called themselves "The Saints," and swore a bond on something called the Shadow Bible. But times have changed and the crimes of the past may not stay hidden much longer -- and may also play a role in the present, as Scotland gears up for a referendum on independence. 

Allegiances are being formed, enemies made, and huge questions asked. Who are the saints and who the sinners? And can the one ever become the other?

What I think of it

It was a real favourite for Rebus! Saints of the Shadow Bible is the kind of book where the characters are so well written, realistic and sympathetic they take precedence over history. The atmosphere is also excellently written. Through this book, it was like I've always known Edinburgh inside out and particularly pubs! Add to this the excellent music listening by Rebus... The context of the book is a character in itself!

The story combines several investigations in which Rebus is involved by far, never being entirely integrated into a team because of the suspicion hanging over him and his former colleagues, the Saints. Investigations are influenced by the referendum on Scottish independence, topic  highly current since the referendum will normally take place in September 2014. They are also influenced by fears of change in the organization of the police. As for the investigation on Rebus, it's the result of the questioning of the "double jeopardy". Rankin therefore incorporates elements of Scottish life in this book that allows us to understand the society in which the characters live, but also the reality of Scots's lives.

We follows Rebus who tries, despite being thrown a spanner in his works, to investigate an accident. Who even insists to complete his investigation, while the political and the internal services investigation get involved. He must team up with Malcolm Fox and eventually even rub a little on him! Rankin manages to make us appreciate Fox, whereas initially he's here to inquire about Rebus. And that is something! 

Saints of the Shadow Bible is a book to read for several reasons. First, for the quality of the writing. Rankin is an excellent storyteller. His characters are hyper realistic and we appreciate them very quickly. The story is complex and believable at the same time. The dialogues are also super smooth and realistic. In some books the writer can overdo it and even if it makes some tasty dialogues, we can say that in real life, it wouldn't be the same. However, here all is credible and yet it's a story! The pace of the book never wanes, we follow in turn Rebus, Shiobhan, Fox and other characters, from a point of view to another, without ever catching our breath but never losing our head.

In a nutshell

A great discovery for me ... and it's a shame having waited so long to read one of Rankin's book! A book that takes you into a plot well done, an excellently transcribed context, hyper credible and sympathetic characters, why one would ask for more? So now, if you won't (re)discover Ian Rankin, the shame is on you! I give it 5/5 .


  1. Is this really your first Rankin? Sigh! Lucky you - you've got all the rest of his books left to discover...! One of my all-time favourites - and the best descriptions of Edinburgh.

  2. Yes I know, it's my first one ! Kind of ashamed to say it out loud :D I've been in Edimburgh some years back and it was a real pleasure to feel like I was there again !