George V. Reilly

Review: The Naming of the Dead

The Naming of the Dead
Title: The Naming of the Dead
Author: Ian Rankin
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Copyright: 2006
Pages: 464
Keywords: crime, fiction
Reading period: 8-9 December, 2007

The G8 conference is about to open in Gleneagles, Scotland, during the first week of July 2005. Hundreds of thousands of anti-glob­al­iza­tion activists are heading to Edinburgh to protest.

Edinburgh cop, DI John Rebus, is about the only police officer in Britain who’s not on G8 duty. He’s been sidelined because of his propensity for pissing off his superiors. Instead, he gets involved in two different in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

A Labour MP plunged to his death from the walls of Edinburgh Castle. Suicide or murder? Why does Rebus keep getting the runaround from Special Branch? A serial killer has murdered three convicted rapists: cases that were not previously tied together because the police thought the dead men got what they deserved.

Rebus and his partner, DS Siobhan Clarke, are prickly, stubborn cops, morally com­pro­mised by the tacit agreements they make with men with power, and struggling to wipe away the stains by fighting on behalf of the dead. The background of the G8 leads to an ex­tra­or­di­nary week in Edinburgh. The dis­par­i­ties between the powerful and the powerless are acutely apparent.

A strong novel, but weakened by the conclusion, where the two cases are im­plau­si­bly tied together.

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