The Rankin File— Resurrection Men

St. Peter stood tall behind the podium in heaven when the criminal came seeking entrance. “You can’t come in here,” said Peter, “and I’ve got some good news and bad news for you.”

“Excellent,” said the thug, “tell me the good news first.”

“You will be raised from the dead.”

The man starts jumping up and down saying “Cool. A fresh start. But what’s the bad news.”

Peter looked down and said, “You’ll be part of the negative resurrection referred to in Dan. 12.1-2 and Rev. 20.”

Resurrection. It’s not all good news. John Rebus finds himself up the creek with a toothpick for a paddle, sent to reform school after he throws a tea cup at his boss Gil Templer. It’s the last chance saloon, and Rebus knows something about saloons. The men sent to the police reform academy are called ‘resurrection men’. They have one last chance to save their careers, to raise them from the dead.

Ian Rankin’s thirteenth novel in the Rebus series is something different. For one thing, Rebus is out of commission, or at least not front and center, and it is a nice change to have Siobhan Clarke be the central character in one of these novels, though of course Rebus can’t help helping her. Officially, Rebus is supposed to be playing nice with other cops at reform school, solving a cold case, which then becomes a hot case, when the supposedly deceased person turns up alive, and then dead again! Talk about resurrection. But in fact, Rebus is a mole of the chief constable, trying to catch dirty cops sent to the reform school. There are all kinds of plots in this novel— garden plots, communist plots, sub plots— you name it. Siobhan (pronounced Shi-vaughn) is up to her eyeballs and paddling hard trying to figure out who killed a famous art dealer. Meanwhile, once again, the tentacles of that Napoleon of crime in this series— Big Ger Cafferty, seem everywhere she turns. Are the various plots actually all interwoven? Does John Rebus have more lives than Morris the cat? Oh wait… its the gangster Cafferty whose name is Morris!

Though after a while crime novels all have a certain sameness to them, never the less, what makes this series so enjoyable is the development of the major characters over time, and the fact that Rankin is smart enough to keep certain central characters going in these novels, chiefly— Rebus Clarke, the CID Gil Templer (a former Rebus flame), and Big Ger. Whether Rebus manages to revive his career, and get back in Gil Templer’s good graces is anyone’s guess, and this novel does keep you guessing to the end— which it part of the fun.

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