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Fleshmarket Close by Ian Rankin
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Fleshmarket Close (2004)

by Ian Rankin

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I loved Ian Rankin's 'Fleshmarket Alley'.....in fact, I have probably over-rated it a bit just due to the fact that it was the right book at the right time for me: a whodunnit with great characters and solid police work.

Detective Rebus is one of the great, underrated characters in this genre. He knows his territory (Edinburgh) and its inhabitants like the back of his hand, he comes across to his peers as gruff yet competent, and he has trouble playing nicely with his superiors. Sounds like a bunch of other characters in the crime genre, but Rebus is actually one of a kind. His gruffness is a facade in front of feelings he takes great care to hide and he has many facets to his character that are exposed through Rankin's series. I've read the Rebus novels out of sequence so I don't have a linear view of how his character has been developed, but I can say that Rankin has done a great job creating him and showing his readers exactly who he is.

Fleshmarket has several plot elements that somehow eventually intersect. A young immigrant man is murdered in a rough part of town while a couple of old skeletons are unearthed in another. Throw in some drugs, white slavery, refugees, immigrant integration, race, and a little romance for the main characters and you have a target rich environment for a police procedural. The action isn't breathtakingly fast, but it moves along quickly.

One reason I like the Rebus series so well is that it's based across the pond and I like to think about the differences between 'them and us'. They may talk kind of funny, but the crimes are similar what you'd see over here, except for the relative absence of guns. The legal system is obviously different, but the job of the police seems to be pretty much the same.

One really interesting topic addressed in Fleshmarket was the immigration issue. At the time it was written (in the early 2000's) Scotland was facing a lot of illegal immigration and refugees and two of the key sites in the investigations were the immigration detention center (where the illegals are 'housed') and a high-rise project in Edinburgh where legal immigrants have found housing. Both are prisons, of a sort. Anyway, immigration was an important facet of this novel and it was fascinating to see how it was covered and reacted to by the Scottish characters.

All-in-all, a fine read! ( )
  gmmartz | Sep 23, 2017 |
Great as usual, I only have two Rebus books left to read. Sob! ( )
  Superenigmatix | Jan 16, 2016 |
This is number 15 in this much-beloved series. I have enjoyed each and every one of the previous books in the series. Rebus is a character that is so realistic that I can't help thinking that if I walk into the Oxford Bar I'll see him there drinking a whiskey and smoking a cigarette. That is Ian Rankin's gift-drawing realistic, three-dimensional characters and crafting very tricky mysteries around them. In this book Rebus is working with another DI. The body of a young immigrant man was found in a dark alley in one of Edinburgh's more seedy neighbourhoods. At first glance it looks like a hate crime, but as Rebus digs, he finds it is much more complicated than it first appears. Siobhan has her own case to pursue. The body of a convicted rapist is found in another dark alley in another seedy neighbourhood. These two quite separate cases turn out be connected in some way. This series continues to satisfy at all levels. Great storytelling, wonderfully intricate plotting, remarkable characterization of both the old, loved characters, as well as new ones and a friendship between two colleagues that seems to strengthen more with each book. Can't wait to read the next one. ( )
1 vote Romonko | Sep 24, 2015 |
This was my first Rankin novel and it comes near the bottom of a long series. As a mystery I did not really find it gripping. There are really three stories here: The skeletons found under the pub floor, the runaway teenager and the murdered immigrant. They are tightly woven together and at times I was uncertain which thread was which.

They are all slow plodding plots with many characters, the names of which are forgettable or not, and it was hard to keep them straight. If you have read my reviews, I am certainly one for character development but my feeling is most of that development took place in the preceding novels. I like slow development but I want something that grips my imagination and that was lacking here for me.

I recognize that Rankin is using this novel as a comment on the issue of immigration. Personally, I would have rather focused on this thread totally rather than dividing my attention with the other threads. It would have been a much more interesting story for me.

They say that most police work is boring drudgery with flashes of action. This book certainly echoed that sentiment for me. I do like Rankin's detail and I may give him another chance in a stand-alone novel or perhaps the first of the series if I come across it, but as an introduction to his work... I was disappointed. ( )
  Lynxear | May 21, 2015 |
It is interesting to see what Rankin does with each book as he has Rebus explore various social issues that the author is clearly interested in. This one was about the slave labor conditions in Scotland of various illegal immigrants. Tragic stories usually. One is murdered and it leads to a tangled web of misdeeds by the people preying on these slaves. Excellent read. ( )
  stuart10er | Nov 5, 2013 |
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Epigraph
It is to Scotland that we look for our idea of civilisation.
(Voltaire)
The climate of Edinburgh is such that the weak succumb young...and the strong envy them.
(Dr Johnson to Boswell)
Dedication
In memory of two friends, Fiona and Annie, much missed.
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"I'm not supposed to be here," Detective Inspector John Rebus said.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Haiku summary
Gang protects its own
Jack's caught at a bordello
Wife's dead - who to blame?
(hardboiled)

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0752865633, Paperback)

An illegal immigrant is found murdered in an Edinburgh housing scheme: a racist attack, or something else entirely? Rebus is drawn into the case, but has other problems: his old police station has closed for business, and his masters would rather he retire than stick around. But Rebus is that most stubborn of creatures. As Rebus investigates, he must visit an asylum seekers' detention centre, deal with the sleazy Edinburgh underworld, and maybe even fall in love...Siobhan meanwhile has problems of her own. A teenager has disappeared from home and Siobhan is drawn into helping the family, which will mean travelling closer than is healthy towards the web of a convicted rapist. Then there's the small matter of the two skeletons - a woman and an infant - found buried beneath a concrete cellar floor in Fleshmarket Close. The scene begins to look like an elaborate stunt - but whose, and for what purpose? And how can it tie to the murder on the unforgiving housing-scheme known as Knoxland?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:51 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Rebus investigates the murder of an illegal immigrant on a Edinburgh housing scheme. Meanwhile, Siobhan looks into the discovery of two skeletons found buried beneath a concrete cellar floor in Fleshmarket Close. The scene begins to look like an elaborate stunt - but whose, and for what purpose?… (more)

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