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A Question of Blood by Ian Rankin
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A Question of Blood (2003)

by Ian Rankin

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Synopsis: Rebus has scalded his hands and few believe that he didn't burn them while murdering a felon. While his hands heal he must help find out why a man walked into a school and shot three students then committed suicide. He must also find out if this man was bringing guns and drugs into the country.
Review: A nicely twisted story with lots of off shoots that lend interest and sometimes hints to the mysteries. ( )
  DrLed | Oct 14, 2017 |
There’s no doubt Rankin’s style is appealing. Having the ageing Rebus working alongside the upcoming Siobhan makes for an interesting combination even if it’s probably now politically incorrect – but then that’s what Rebus is all about.

I suspect some readers might have found the dénouement of this one a little disappointing as the motivation behind each of the major crimes didn’t resolve itself in an explanatory way. I didn’t really feel much tension in this book either – lots of drinking as usual and quite a bit on rock songs. Perhaps it would have had a bit more of an edge if it had been reduced by perhaps a third, taking out a few pub visits.

One thing I noticed was how technology has moved on in the fourteen years since this book was written. I suspect that this would be more of a problem in popular fiction than in writing meant to last the distance.

Basically, though, Rankin, does enough for the reader to pass a few escapist hours. ( )
1 vote evening | Jun 21, 2017 |
I forgot that I had read this book before; I remembered early on in the story. I must have kept the book only because it came from a friend.

Generally speaking, I hate plots that have cops acting like they're above the law and that is how this story goes for chapters ... I knew it got better and dragged myself through to see how it ended. I'm really glad to be rid of this book!!

Adrianne ( )
  Adrianne_p | Oct 9, 2016 |
This is rich in clues to keep the reader in with a chance to identify where the solutions lie to the shooting; not so much for solving the fire. The pace, character development and plot are all good. ( )
  BridgitDavis | Mar 16, 2016 |
It's been a while since I've read a Rebus novel and this was a welcome reminder of how good they are. ( )
  Superenigmatix | Jan 16, 2016 |
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But of all Rankin's assets, it's his dialogue that impresses most. It kicks the story forward, not unlike the rhythm section of Rebus' beloved Stones. The speakers feel like sentient beings -- they shade, allude and obfuscate, and they are conscious that the person they're talking to is doing the same.
 
The primary challenge of any long detective series is to turn new aspects of the character towards the light with each novel. A Question of Blood achieves this because Rebus, never previously very likable, begins the book under suspicion of being a murderer himself. A crook who had been threatening Rebus's colleague DS Siobhan Clarke has died in a fire. The detective inspector, seen with the victim earlier in the evening, is admitted to hospital with scalded hands.
added by geocroc | editThe Guardian, Mark Lawson (Aug 30, 2003)
 
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Ita res accendent lumina rebus
- anonymus

There is no prospect of an end.
- James Hutton, scientist, 1785
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'There's no mystery,' Detective Sergeant Siobhan Clarke said.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0316159182, Mass Market Paperback)

Given his contempt for authority, his tendency to pursue investigative avenues of his own choosing, and his habitually ornery manner, it's a wonder that John Rebus hasn't been booted unceremoniously from his job as an Edinburgh cop. He certainly tempts that fate again in A Question of Blood, which finds him and his younger partner, Detective Sergeant Siobhan Clarke, trying to close the case of a withdrawn ex-soldier named Lee Herdman, who apparently shot three teenage boys at a Scottish private school, leaving two of them dead, before turning the pistol on himself.

"There’s no mystery," Siobhan insists at the start of this 14th Rebus novel (following Resurrection Men). "Herdman lost his marbles, that’s all." However, the hard-drinking, chain-smoking Rebus, who'd once sought entry into the same elite regiment in which Herdman served (but ultimately cracked under psychological interrogation), thinks there's more motive than mania behind this classroom slaughter. Perhaps something to do with the gunman's role in a 1995 mission to salvage a downed military helicopter, or with Teri Cotter, a 15-year-old "Goth" who broadcasts her bedroom life over the Internet, yet keeps private her relationship with the haunted Herdman. Rebus's doubts about the murder-suicide theory are deepened with the appearance of two tight-lipped army investigators, and by the peculiar behavior of James Bell, the boy who was only wounded during Herdman's firing spree and whose politician father hopes to use that tragedy as ammo in the campaign against widespread gun ownership. But the detective inspector's focus on this inquiry is susceptible to diversion, both by an internal police probe into his role in the burning death of a small-time crook who'd been stalking Siobhan, and by the fact that Rebus--who shies away from any family contacts--was related to one of Herdman’s victims.

Now middle-aged and on the downward slope of his pugnacity (the high point may have come in 1997's Black and Blue), Rebus has become the engine of his own obsolescence. Overexposure to criminals has left him better at understanding them than his colleagues, and he only worsens his career standing by fighting other people's battles for them, especially Siobhan, who risks learning too many lessons from her mentor. To watch Rebus subvert police conventions and fend of personal demons (that latter struggle mirrored in A Question of Blood by Herdman's own) is worth the admission to this consistently ambitious series. --J. Kingston Pierce

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:57:57 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

John Rebus has to face up to the most savage and senseless crime imaginable, one in which all his knowledge of human motivation is rendered useless and one that will take him to the heart of human darkness.

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