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Saints of the Shadow Bible (Inspector John Rebus Series #19)

Saints of the Shadow Bible (Inspector John Rebus Series #19)

4.5 16
by Ian Rankin

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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


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?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 12/23/2013
John Rebus comes out of retirement in Edgar-winner Rankin's stellar 20th novel featuring the Edinburgh cop (after 2013's Standing in Another Man's Grave). Rebus, though, must accept a demotion—from detective inspector to detective sergeant—not that he cares about rank. It's the case that counts, which in this entry involves "conspiracies, connections and coincidences." Malcolm Fox, the officer in charge of the Complaints department (the Scottish version of Internal Affairs), leads an investigation into whether a fast and loose group of cops in the mid-1980s known as the Saints of the Shadow Bible might have tainted a murder trial back when Rebus was a young officer. Rankin deftly ties the old case into a fresh one that begins with a seemingly routine car accident involving the daughter of a powerful businessman that soon expands to involve the suspicious death of the public face of the Scottish nationalist movement. The immense and intricate canvas includes dozens of characters, plots within plots, and multiple themes, from Scottish independence to the insidiousness of corruption, public and private. Too much may be going on at times for some readers, but distinctive characters (including Edinburgh itself) make the book memorable. "The good guys are never all good and the bad ones never all bad," says Rebus, and that certainly applies to Rebus himself, willful, determined, and droll. 8-city author tour. (Jan.)
Kirkus Reviews
Rebus is working the streets as a detective again—and his loyalty is on the line. When John Rebus left retirement to rejoin the Edinburgh police force, he had to take the reduced rank of detective sergeant. Siobhan Clarke, his former junior partner, is now a detective inspector and theoretically his boss in the investigation of the road accident of Jessica Traynor, a young art student. The two coppers suspect that Jessica's boyfriend, son of Justice Minister Patrick McCuskey, was driving the car and fled the scene. While Rebus is on the Traynor case and the subsequent murder of McCuskey, Malcolm Fox of Complaints is investigating Rebus and the surviving members of the Saints of the Shadow Bible, a police division that disbanded years ago. Rebus, who was only a detective constable back then, had little to do with Billy Saunders, the snitch who killed a man and walked, most likely thank to his usefulness to the Saints. Thirty years later, the snitch disappears, and Rebus must choose whether to back up his former mates while he pursues the crisscrossing mysteries. Although Rebus (Standing in Another Man's Grave, 2013, etc.) is the protagonist of this gritty procedural, you see the action through so many other eyes that the hard-living detective is less vivid a presence than in his earlier outings. But the most persistent cop in the shop will still do whatever it takes to crack a case.
From the Publisher

Rankin bangs out a rich, rowdy prose...Rebus has become one of the great modern cops, a kind of Scottish cousin to Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch."—Patrick Anderson, Washington Post"

John Rebus remains one of crime fiction's crankiest, most interestingly complex figures....We can rejoice in Rebus's return—the mean streets of Edinburgh are better for it."—Adam Woog, Seattle Times"

Absorbing....Rankin is a master of the mystery universe."—Carole E. Barrowman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel"

Rebus remains as fascinatingly complex and gruffly engaging as ever. Retirement will not suit him, or Rankin's readers."—Dan DeLuca, Philadelphia Inquirer


Longtime fans of the series will savor every nuance in the subtle interplay between characters here, but Rankin doesn't forget the thriller plot, either, corkscrewing the narrative into a surprising and satisfying conclusion. Hats off to a writer who can keep a long-running series fresh by upsetting our expectations and rummaging ever deeper into the rag-and-bone shop of his characters' hearts."—Booklist"

[There is] real joy in watching Fox and Rebus dance around each other, acknowledging a burgeoning respectful rapport in spite of themselves, while the ace Siobhan Clarke - more please, Mr. Rankin! - shoulders new responsibilities."—Boston Globe"

Ian Rankin is such a practiced and successful writer...If anything, he is at the top of his game, and Saints of the Shadow Bible is one of the best novels he has produced."—BookReporter "

Rankin shows no signs of losing steam with John Rebus...his interaction with Malcolm Fox works to build empathy for both characters, as fans discover a side of Fox not seen before...Rankin's gift with dialogue, his wit and raw examination of human nature continue to intensify, resulting in a resonant reading experience for both seasoned series devotees and new Rebus recruits."—Shelf Awareness"

This might be the best detective novel of the year."—Dayton Daily News

Product Details

Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
Inspector John Rebus Series , #19
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)


Meet the Author

Ian Rankin is a #1 international bestselling author. Winner of an Edgar Award and the recipient of a Gold Dagger for fiction and the Chandler-Fulbright Award, he lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, with his wife and their two sons.

Brief Biography

Edinburgh, London and France
Date of Birth:
April 28, 1960
Place of Birth:
Cardenden, Scotland
Edinburgh University

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Saints of the Shadow Bible 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ian Rankin does it again. Not only is this a great Rebus book, it brings in Malcolm Fox in an interesting way. I hope he keeps writing about Rebus.
SolverFan More than 1 year ago
Ian Rankin is so good that the reader willingly suspends disbelief, as Chandler said.  The writing is excellent, the characters so vivid that it's only on finishing that a person notices little holes in the plot.  For everyone else who was disappointed that Rankin seemed to retire Rebus, the last two books have been an immense pleasure.  I for one hope that Rankin continues the pairing of Malcolm Fox and Rebus until he himself packs it in.  This book is for all fans of police procedurals, especially those featuring not-quite-by-the-book protagonists.  It has humor, suspense, atmosphere, everything mystery readers treasure.  I cannot wait for the next book, only wish Rankin would write 2 a year.
donnfo More than 1 year ago
I'm about one third into the book, but was hooked almost right away. Malcolm Fox, the Complaints Officer seems almost reasonable, as he works with Rebus on a cold case. Looking forward to seeing where this is headed.
Sayna More than 1 year ago
Rebus fans will thoroughly enjoy "The saints of the Shadow Bible", in which Rebus reports to Siobhan Clarke. The story nicely ties together crimes from Rebus' early years with those committed in real time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ian Rankin never disappoints. I have read all of his Rebus Series. Only wish there were more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ian Rankin is one of my favorite authors: He writes in depth depictions of the characters, set in dark, damp Scotland engaged in complex schemes where the line between good and evil are blurred. Among the best of the genre.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rankin at his best.
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tedfeit0 More than 1 year ago
When the Cold Case Group in which Rebus has been working is eliminated, he lucks out by being taken back with a spot in CID, albeit with a demotion. Reduced from DI to DS, he now is subordinate to his long-time protégé, DI Clarke. Of course, that doesn’t stop the old dinosaur from acting like he always has. Rankin introduces a couple of surprises in this novel, the first being having Malcolm Fox, Rebus’s standing nemesis, as a co-investigator working together. It comes about because Fox is performing his last assignment with the Complaints looking at a 30-year-old case involving the group known as the Saints of the Shadow Bible because they each swore fidelity to protect each other on a stand-in for the holy book. Rebus had joined the group as a young DC soon after the arrest of a snitch who eventually got off on a murder charge through police mistakes. This was in the Old Days, when anything went and they made their own rules. The Solicitor General recently pushed through a retraction of the double jeopardy rule and was looking to resurrect the murder charge. Rebus volunteers to assist in Fox’s efforts and the two learn to trust one another, leading to cooperation in another more recent investigation involving an auto accident and the murder of the Minister of Justice. As with the rest of the series, Rebus shines and errs, but his character and ability always comes through. The author has no need of our praise, but deserves accolades nonetheless. The complexity of the plot provides Rebus with the chance to outthink everyone, but the surprise is that Fox rises to the occasion as a real CID detective. Highly recommended.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was really looking forward to it and was not disappointed.  Just wish there were more!  Rankin is one of the best.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago