Bible John killed three women, and took three souvenirs. Johnny Bible killed to steal his namesake's glory. Oilman Allan Mitchelson died for his principles. And convict Lenny Spaven died just to prove a point. "Bible John" terrorized Glasgow in the sixties and seventies, murdering three women he met in a local ballroomand he was never caught. Now a copycat is at work. Nicknamed "Bible Johnny" by the media, he is a new menace with violent ambitions.
The Bible Johnny case would be perfect for Inspector John Rebus, but after a run-in with a crooked senior officer, he's been shunted aside to one of Edinburgh's toughest suburbs, where he investigates the murder of an off-duty oilman. His investigation takes him north to the oil rigs of Aberdeen, where he meets the Bible Johnny media circus head-on. Suddenly caught in the glare of the television cameras and in the middle of more than one investigation, Rebus must proceed with caution: One mistake could mean an unpleasant and not particularly speedy death, or, worse still, losing his job.
Written with Ian Rankin's signature wit, style and intricacy, Black and Blue is a novel of uncommon and unforgettable intrigue.
About the Author
Ian Rankin is the worldwide #1 bestselling writer of the Inspector Rebus books, including Knots and Crosses, Hide and Seek, Let It Bleed, Set in Darkness, Resurrection Men, A Question of Blood, The Falls and Exit Music. He is also the author of The Complaints and Doors Open. He has won an Edgar Award, a Gold Dagger for fiction, a Diamond Dagger for career excellence, and the Chandler-Fulbright Award. He has been elected a Hawthornden Fellow, and received the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his contributions to literature. He graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1982. He lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, with his wife and their two sons.
Hometown:Edinburgh, London and France
Date of Birth:April 28, 1960
Place of Birth:Cardenden, Scotland
Read an Excerpt
Black and Blue
By Ian Rankin
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 1997 Ian Rankin
All rights reserved.
"Tell me again why you killed them."
"I've told you, it's just this urge."
Rebus looked back at his notes. "The word you used was compulsion.'"
The slumped figure in the chair nodded. Bad smells came off him. "Urge, compulsion, same thing."
"Is it?" Rebus stubbed out his cigarette. There were so many butts in the tin ashtray, a couple spilled over on to the metal table. "Let's talk about the first victim."
The man opposite him groaned. His name was William Crawford Shand, known as "Craw." He was forty years old, single, and lived alone in a council block in Craigmillar. He had been unemployed six years. He ran twitching fingers through dark greasy hair, seeking out and covering a large bald spot at the crown of his head.
"The first victim," Rebus said. "Tell us."
"Us" because there was another CID man in the biscuit-tin. His name was Maclay, and Rebus didn't know him very well. He didn't know anyone at Craigmillar very well, not yet. Maclay was leaning against the wall, arms folded, eyes reduced to slits. He looked like a piece of machinery at rest.
"I strangled her."
"A length of rope."
"Where did you get the rope?"
"Bought it at some shop, I can't remember where."
Three-beat pause. "Then what did you do?"
"After she was dead?" Shand moved a little in the chair. "I took her clothes off and was intimate with her."
"With a dead body?"
"She was still warm."
Rebus got to his feet. The grating of his chair on the floor seemed to unnerve Shand. Not difficult.
"Where did you kill her?"
"And where was this park?"
"Near where she lived."
"Polmuir Road, Aberdeen."
"And what were you doing in Aberdeen, Mr. Shand?"
He shrugged, running his fingers now along the rim of the table, leaving traces of sweat and grease.
"I wouldn't do that," Rebus said. "The edges are sharp, you might get cut."
Maclay snorted. Rebus walked over towards the wall and stared at him. Maclay nodded briefly. Rebus turned back to the table.
"Describe the park." He rested against the edge of the table, got himself another cigarette and lit it.
"It was just a park. You know, trees and grass, a play park for the kids."
"Were the gates locked?"
"It was late at night, were the gates locked?"
"I don't remember."
"You don't remember." Pause: two beats. "Where did you meet her?"
Quickly: "At a disco."
"You don't seem the disco type, Mr. Shand." Another snort from the machine. "Describe the place to me."
Shand shrugged again. "Like any other disco: dark, flashing lights, a bar."
"What about victim number two?"
"Same procedure." Shand's eyes were dark, face gaunt. But for all that he was beginning to enjoy himself, easing into his story again. "Met her at a disco, offered to take her home, killed her and fucked her."
"No intimacy then. Did you take a souvenir?"
Rebus flicked ash on to the floor, flakes landed on his shoes. "Did you remove anything from the scene?"
Shand thought it over, shook his head.
"And this was where exactly?"
"Close to her home?"
"She lived on Inverleith Row."
"What did you strangle her with?"
"The bit of rope."
"The same piece?" Shand nodded. "What did you do, keep it in your pocket?"
"Do you have it with you now?"
"I chucked it."
"You're not making it easy for us, are you?" Shand squirmed with pleasure. Four beats. "And the third victim?"
"Glasgow," Shand recited. "Kelvingrove Park. Her name was Judith Cairns. She told me to call her Ju-Ju. I did her same as the others." He sat back in the chair, drawing himself up and folding his arms. Rebus reached out a hand until it touched the man's forehead, faith-healer style. Then he pushed, not very hard. But there was no resistance. Shand and the chair toppled backwards on to the floor. Rebus was kneeling in front of him, hauling him up by the front of his shirt.
"You're a liar!" he hissed. "Everything you know you got straight from the papers, and what you had to make up was pure dross!" He let go and got to his feet. His hands were damp where he'd been holding the shirt.
"I'm not lying," Shand pleaded, still prone. "That's gospel I'm telling you!"
Rebus stubbed out the half-smoked cigarette. The ashtray tipped more butts on to the table. Rebus picked one up and flicked it at Shand.
"Are you not going to charge me?"
"You'll be charged all right: wasting police time. A spell in Saughton with an arse-bandit for a roomie."
"We usually just let him go," Maclay said.
"Stick him in a cell," Rebus ordered, leaving the room.
"But I'm him!" Shand persisted, even as Maclay was picking him off the floor. "I'm Johnny Bible! I'm Johnny Bible!"
"Not even close, Craw," Maclay said, quietening him with a punch.
Rebus needed to wash his hands, splash some water on his face. Two woolly suits were in the toilets, enjoying a story and a cigarette. They stopped laughing when Rebus came in.
"Sir," one asked, "who did you have in the biscuit-tin?"
"Another comedian," Rebus said.
"This place is full of them," the second constable commented. Rebus didn't know if he meant the station, Craigmillar itself, or the city as a whole. Not that there was much comedy in Craigmillar police station. It was Edinburgh's hardest posting; a stint of duty lasted two years max, no one could function longer than that. Craigmillar was about as tough an area as you could find in Scotland's capital city, and the station fully merited its nickname — Fort Apache, the Bronx. It lay up a cul-de-sac behind a row of shops, a low-built dour-faced building with even dourer-faced tenements behind. Being up an alley meant a mob could cut it off from civilisation with ease, and the place had been under siege numerous times. Yes, Craigmillar was a choice posting.
Rebus knew why he was there. He'd upset some people, people who mattered. They hadn't been able to deal him a death blow, so had instead consigned him to purgatory. It couldn't be hell because he knew it wasn't for ever. Call it a penance. The letter telling him of his move had explained that he would be covering for a hospitalised colleague. It had also stated that he would help oversee the shutting down of the old Craigmillar station. Everything was being wound down, transferred to a brand new station nearby. The place was already a shambles of packing cases and pillaged cupboards. Staff weren't exactly expending great energy solving ongoing cases. Nor had they put any energy into welcoming Detective Inspector John Rebus. The place felt more like a hospital ward than a cop-shop, and the patients were tranquillised to the hilt.
He wandered back to the CID room — the "Shed." On the way, he passed Maclay and Shand, the latter still protesting his guilt as he was dragged to the cells.
"I'm Johnny Bible! I fucking am and all!"
Not even close.
It was nine p.m. on a Tuesday in June and the only other person in the Shed was Detective Sergeant "Dod" Bain. He glanced up from his magazine— Offbeat, the L&B newsletter — and Rebus shook his head.
"Thought not," Bain said, turning a page. "Craw's notorious for grassing himself up, that's why I left him to you."
"You've as much heart as a carpet tack."
"But I'm as sharp as one, too. Don't forget that."
Rebus sat at his desk and considered writing his report of the interview. Another comedian, another waste of time. And still Johnny Bible was out there.
First there had been Bible John, terrorising Glasgow in the late 1960s. A well-dressed young man with reddish hair, who knew his Bible and frequented the Barrowland Ballroom. He picked up three women there, beat them, raped them, strangled them. Then he disappeared, right in the middle of Glasgow's biggest manhunt, and never resurfaced, the case open to this day. Police had a cast-iron description of Bible John from the sister of his last victim. She'd spent close on two hours in his company, shared a taxi with him even. They'd dropped her off; her sister had waved goodbye through the back window ... Her description hadn't helped.
And now there was Johnny Bible. The media had been quick with the name. Three women: beaten, raped, strangled. That was all they'd needed to make the comparison. Two of the women had been picked up at nightclubs, discos. There were vague descriptions of a man who'd been seen dancing with the victims. Well-dressed, shy. It clicked with the original Bible John. Only Bible John, supposing he were still alive, would be in his fifties, while this new killer was described as mid-to-late twenties. Therefore: Johnny Bible, spiritual son of Bible John.
There were differences, of course, but the media didn't dwell on those. For one thing, Bible John's victims had all been dancing at the same dancehall; Johnny Bible ranged far and wide through Scotland in his hunt for victims. This had led to the usual theories: he was a long-distance lorry driver; a company rep. Police were ruling nothing out. It might even be Bible John himself, back after a quarter century away, the mid-to-late twenties description flawed — it had happened before with apparently watertight eyewitness testimony. They were also keeping a few things quiet about Johnny Bible — just as they had with Bible John. It helped rule out the dozens of fake confessions.
Rebus had barely started his report when Maclay swayed into the room. That was the way he walked, from side to side, not because he was drunk or drugged but because he was seriously overweight, a metabolism thing. There was something wrong with his sinuses too; his breathing often came in laboured wheezes, his voice a blunt plane against the grain of the wood. His station nickname was "Heavy."
"Escorted Craw from the premises?" Bain asked.
Maclay nodded towards Rebus's desk. "Wants him charged for wasting our time."
"Now that's what I call a waste of time."
Maclay swayed in Rebus's direction. His hair was jet black, ringed with slick kiss-curls. He'd probably won Bonniest Bairn prizes, but not for a while.
"Come on," he said.
Rebus shook his head and kept typing.
"Fuck him," Bain said, getting to his feet. He unhooked his jacket from the back of the chair. To Maclay: "Drinkie?"
Maclay wheezed out a long sigh. "Just the job."
Rebus held his breath until they'd gone. Not that he'd been expecting to be asked along. That was their whole point. He stopped typing and reached into his bottom drawer for the Lucozade bottle, unscrewed the cap, sniffed forty-three per cent malt and poured in a mouthful. With the bottle back in its drawer, he popped a mint into his mouth.
Better. "I can see clearly now": Marvin Gaye.
He yanked the report from the typewriter and crumpled it into a ball, then called the desk, told them to hold Craw Shand an hour, then release him. He'd just put down the phone when it started ringing.
Brian Holmes, Detective Sergeant, still based at St. Leonard's. They kept in touch. His voice tonight was toneless.
Holmes laughed, no humour. "I've got the world's supply."
"So tell me the latest." Rebus opened the packet one-handed, in mouth and lit.
"I don't know that I can, with you being in shit."
"Craigmillar's not so bad." Rebus looked around the stale office.
"I meant the other thing."
"See, I'm ... I might have gotten myself into something ..."
"A suspect, we had him in custody. He was giving me a shit load of grief."
"You smacked him."
"That's what he's saying."
"Filed a complaint?"
"In the process. His solicitor wants to take it all the way."
"Your word against his?"
"The rubber-heels will kick it out."
"I suppose so."
"Or get Siobhan to cover your arse."
"She's on holiday. My partner for the interview was Glamis."
"No good then, he's as yellow as a New York cab."
A pause. "Aren't you going to ask me if I did it?"
"I don't ever want to know, understood? Who was the suspect?"
"Christ, that brewhead knows more law than the procurator-fiscal. OK, let's go talkies."
It was good to be out of the station. He had the car windows rolled down. The breeze was almost warm. The station-issue Escort hadn't been cleaned in a while. There were chocolate wrappers, empty crisp bags, crushed bricks of orange juice and Ribena. The heart of the Scottish diet: sugar and salt. Add alcohol and you had heart and soul.
Minto lived in one of the tenement flats on South Clerk Street, first floor. Rebus had been there on occasions past, none of them savoury to the memory. Kerbside was solid with cars, so he double-parked. In the sky, fading roseate was fighting a losing battle with encroaching dark. And below it all, halogen orange. The street was noisy. The cinema up the road was probably emptying, and the first casualties were tearing themselves away from still-serving pubs. Night-cooking in the air: hot batter, pizza topping, Indian spice. Brian Holmes was standing outside a charity shop, hands in pockets. No car: he'd probably walked from St. Leonard's. The two men nodded a greeting.
Holmes looked tired. Just a few years ago he'd been young, fresh, keen. Rebus knew home life had taken its toll: he'd been there in his own marriage, annulled years back. Holmes's partner wanted him out of the force. She wanted someone who spent more time with her. Rebus knew all too well what she wanted. She wanted someone whose mind was on her when he was at home, who wasn't immersed in casework and speculation, mind games and promotion strategies. Often as a police officer you were closer to your working partner than your partner for life. When you joined CID they gave you a handshake and a piece of paper.
The piece of paper was your decree nisi.
"Do you know if he's up there?" Rebus asked.
"I phoned him. He picked up. Sounded halfway to sober."
"Did you say anything?"
"Think I'm stupid?"
Rebus was looking up at the tenement windows. Ground level was shops; Minto lived above a locksmith's. There was irony there for those who wanted it.
"OK, you come up with me, but stay on the landing. Only come in if you hear trouble."
"I'm only going to speak to the man." Rebus touched Holmes's shoulder. "Relax."
The main door was unlocked. They climbed the winding stairs without speaking. Rebus pushed at the bell and took a deep breath. Minto started to pull the door open, and Rebus shouldered it, propelling Minto and himself into the dimly lit hallway. He slammed the door shut behind him.
Minto was ready for violence until he saw who it was. Then he just snarled and strode back to the living room. It was a tiny room, half kitchenette, with a narrow floor-to-ceiling cupboard Rebus knew held a shower. There was one bedroom, and a toilet with a doll-house sink. They made igloos bigger.
"Fuck do you want?" Minto was reaching for a can of lager, high- alcohol. He drained it, standing.
"A word." Rebus looked around the room, casually as it were. But his hands were by his sides, ready.
"This is unlawful entry."
"Keep yapping, I'll show you unlawful entry."
Minto's face creased: not impressed. He was mid-thirties but looked fifteen years older. He'd done most of the major drugs in his time: Billy Whizz, skag, Morningside speed. He was on a meth programme now. On dope, he was a small problem, an irritation; off dope, he was pure radge. He was Mental.
"Way I hear, you're fucked anyway," he said now.
Rebus took a step closer. "That's right, Mental. So ask yourself: what have I got to lose? If I'm fucked, might as well make it good and."
Minto held up his hands. "Easy, easy. What's your problem?"
Rebus let his face relax. "You're my problem, Mental. Making a charge against a colleague of mine."
"He laid into me."
Rebus shook his head. "I was there, didn't see a thing. I'd called in with a message for DS Holmes. I stuck around. So if he'd assaulted you, I'd've known, wouldn't I?"
They stood facing one another silently. Then Minto turned and slumped into the room's only armchair. He looked like he was going to sulk. Rebus bent down and picked something off the floor. It was the city's tourist accommodation brochure.
"Going somewhere nice?" He flicked through the lists of hotels, B&Bs, self-catering. Then he waved the magazine at Minto. "If one single place in here gets turned, you'll be our first stop."
"Harassment," Minto said, but quietly.
Rebus dropped the brochure. Minto didn't look so mental now; he looked done in and done down, like life was sporting a horseshoe in one of its boxing gloves. Rebus turned to go. He walked down the hall and was reaching for the door when he heard Minto call his name. The small man was standing at the other end of the hall, only twelve feet away. He had pulled his baggy black T-shirt up to his shoulders. Having shown the front, he turned to give Rebus a view of the back. The lighting was poor — forty-watt bulb in a flyblown shade — but even so Rebus could see. Tattoos, he thought at first. But they were bruises: ribs, sides, kidneys. Self-inflicted? It was possible. It was always possible. Minto dropped the shirt and stared hard at Rebus, not blinking. Rebus let himself out of the flat.
"Everything all right?" Brian Holmes said nervously.
"The story is, I came by with a message. I sat in on the interview."
Holmes exhaled noisily. "That's it then?"
Excerpted from Black and Blue by Ian Rankin. Copyright © 1997 Ian Rankin. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
THE WHISPERING RAIN,
FURRY BOOT TOWN,
THE PANIC OF DREAMS,
NORTH OF HELL,
St. Martin's Paperbacks Titles by Ian Rankin,
OVERWHELMING ACCLAIM FOR AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR IAN RANKIN,
GET A CLUE!,
What People are Saying About This
"Brilliant...the kind of blistering police procedural that gives the genre a good name." --Entertainment Weekly (A rating)
"Reading [Ian Rankin] is like watching somebody juggle a dozen bottles of single malt without spilling a drop." --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Ian Rankin is a novelist of great scope, depth, and power, and Black and Blue is a dark, intensely evocative and altogether riveting thriller. Brilliant." --Bestselling author Jonathan Kellerman
"Ian Rankin's Scottish police procedurals are so gritty you have to pick the shards out of your teeth when you finish one, and Black and Blue is as flinty as they come." --The New York Times Book Review
OVERWHELMING ACCLAIM FOR AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR IAN RANKIN
"In Rankin you cannot go wrong." --The Boston Globe
"The progenitor--and king--of tartan noir." --James Ellroy, author of L.A. Confidential
"A brutal but beautifully written series...The author pushes the procedural form well past conventional genre limits." --The New York Times Book Review
"A master of mood and setting." --Toronto Globe and Mail
"Rankin gives his inspector a refreshing smart-ass personality." --San Francisco Chronicle
"John Rebus calls for comparison with Colin Dexter's Oxford copper Inspector Morse...Rankin creates a living, breathing world in which his weary protagonist tackles cases while involved in the intricacies of the day-to-day: Pints and hangovers, stumbling romance, wet weather, damp clothes, tricky superiors and wide-eyed subordinates." -- Publishers Weekly
Ian Rankin is a novelist of great scope, depth, and power, and Black and Blue is a dark, intensely evocative and altogether riveting thriller. Brilliant.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
In this, the 8th book in the Inspector Rebus series, we find our unkempt inspector trying to solve several seemingly unrelated cases. There's a man who's been found impaled on a fence, tied to a chair with a plastic bag over his head which some are wanting to call a suicide, though Rebus doesn't agree with that version of events. There's a serial killer who's offed three women so far that the media has named Johnny Bible, since it appears he is mimicking the methods of a serial killer who was active decades earlier, then known as Bible John. There's a snitch who turns up dead, and based on a phone number Rebus discovers at the man's house and the finding that the plastic bag man was an oil worker on the ocean rigs near Aberdeen he decides to visit that town, where he is convinced a thug, his girlfriend and his son are selling drugs to the bored oil workers when they come off their two-week shifts. Rebus accuses several policemen of being on the take and is badly beaten up a couple of times for putting his nose into affairs some people think don't concern him. He is also put under arrest and questioned, then shadowed 24/7 by a former colleague, since he is suspected of being Johnny Bible, even though eye witnesses maintain that Johnny Bible is much younger than he is. The narration also alternates between Rebus' and Bible John's activities as the latter attempts to find his copycat. In the midst of all this, our hard drinking inspector decides to go on the wagon. Confused? So was I. I've read a few Rebus books and couldn't make heads nor tails out of this one. It started out well enough, and I was eager to continue exploring this 500 page (!) crime fiction novel which has won numerous awards and honours, but I got lost amidst the confusion of all the interwoven storylines that didn't seem to connect in a plausible way. Frustrating. But there's still plenty of intrigue and something irresistible about this unpleasant, grumpy detective that keeps me from declaring this one a total bomb.
Rebus is great form, making loads of enemies while trying to find out why an oil-rig worker has been murdered - or was he? Big Ger makes a hilarious appearance and we are also treated to a tour of northern Scotland with its various personalities and dialects. As usual, Rankin does a bang-up job of characterization and dialogue and when the higher-ups are trying to frame Rebus in order to keep him from investigating a case they don't want solved, the stakes are as high as can be. And with the added pressure of trying to find a serial killer who in turn is trying to find his own copy-cat, Rebus is up to his ears in trouble. This is one of my favorites of an already great series.
This is the sixth book in the John Rebus series, but I felt like I was reading a different book this time. Rankin appears to have turned a corner with his character with this book. I always loved Rebus's character and his human flaws, but in this book we see Rebus totally uncovered. His character is so beautifully displayed in this book. The story itself was complex. There were three apparently different cases that Rebus was investigating and he continues he begins to think that all three are actually connected in some way. He does his investigations almost completely single-handed while his career is in an uproar and while he is under investigation. This is a powerful, complex and totally un-put-downable book. I cannot wait to read more Rebus, and with the way this one ends, you just know that John Rebus is not yet done with this particular investigation. What a great book!
Black and Blue is the eighth of the Inspector Rebus mystery/suspense series by Ian Rankin, and is considered to be a quintessential example of the ¿Tartan Noir¿ genre. In the 1960¿s, there was a serial killer in Scotland known as Bible John. After a while, he simply disappeared. Now there is an imitator, called Johnny Bible. Inspector Rebus wants desperately to find him. But so does Bible John! In a nice bit of black humor, Bible John doesn¿t appreciate the inferior knock-off tarnishing his reputation. Nor does he like the renewed attention to his own case, having been successfully in hiding now for some time. So he too gets involved in the hunt for Johnny Bible, and as a matter of pride, wants to find him before the police do. Discussion: Black and Blue won The Gold Dagger Award, given annually by the Crime Writers' Association for best crime novel of the year. It¿s darker than the first Inspector Rebus novel, Knots & Crosses, and more complicated, but richer for all that. It is called Black and Blue after the Rolling Stones album by the same name, and there are some sly allusions to its songs throughout the story.Although the book has been translated into over 20 languages, there is no translation of the ¿English¿ one, but there is quite a bit of Scottish slang that sometimes makes it seem as if a translation is in order!I think the think I like best about these books is that they seem very real. For example, everybody throws up a lot: police or witnesses who see bodies, autopsy goers, heavy drinkers, and those trying to expectorate swallowed emotions. The police get away with what they can ¿ they cadge bootleg items; think nothing of picking up items in a dead man¿s house that aren¿t evidence but are now ¿unclaimed¿; and they are eager to tap into the kindness of bartenders, restaurant owners, clothes purveyors, and others who might want to rely in turn on the generosity of police officers.Inspector Rebus tries to be objective when it comes to whether or not someone (other than him, of course) is breaking the law, but this quality seems relatively rare in his environment; value judgments are constantly pitted against dedication to law enforcement.Women may be looked at as sex objects by many of the male characters, but they nevertheless tend to be strong, savvy actors in these books.Evaluation: Plot complications abound, but somehow they are tied together in a Kevin Bacon-esque kind of way. And while complex, involving drug gangs, the oil industry, and police corruption and misconduct past and present, they aren¿t hard to follow. Nor does the author write in a way that makes it necessary for you to have read any other Inspector Rebus novel, although you don¿t get much explanation in this book for Rebus¿s dysfunctions (e.g., alcoholism, bouts of crying, churlishness, lose definition of morality, and lone wolf orientation).I didn¿t like this book as much as Knots & Crosses, but it was a personal thing with me. This book is certainly more intricate and well-developed, but I really don¿t like spending time with drug gangs (in books or on television, or presumably, in real life). They tend to be very unpleasant people in whatever guise they appear. So that particular aspect didn¿t appeal to me. But this book is more highly thought of than Knots & Crosses, and it¿s very noir - almost like a Pelecanos book ¿ which should appeal to aficionados of that genre.
I'm trying to read as many of the older Rebus books as I can get my hands on. This is #9 in the series and really, really good. It won the Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger, the highest award for a mystery book published in the UK, in 1996.Rebus has been moved to another police station in Edinburgh due to some altercation with his previous supervisor that was no doubt discussed in Let it Bleed, the 8th book in the series which I haven't read. There's an investigation into an old case that may get Rebus into trouble but he's more interested in a serial killer that is raping and murdering young women all across Scotland. He has hit in Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh so far. The press are calling him Johnny Bible because his method is similar to Bible John, a serial killer who killed 3 women in Glasgow in the 60's and then stopped. Rebus is not officially on the case but he's helping out and he is obsessed by the link with the older case. With his usual tact and discretion Rebus manages to trample on the toes of police in Glasgow and Aberdeen as well as his home town. He is also investigating the mysterious death of an oil worker in Edinburgh that leads him to Aberdeen. Finally, the inspector investigating the old case assigns Jack Morton, an old friend of Rebus', to stay with him 24 hours a day. Morton and Rebus criss-cross Scotland investigating the oil worker's death, the Johnny Bible case and some drug deals. While they spend time together Morton convinces Rebus to go on the wagon as he has done. It's strange to read about Rebus turning down drinks but it seems to work for him because he manages to solve the oilman's death and he is instrumental in having the drug dealers caught. However, he is one step behind on the Johnny Bible case, one step behind Bible John. Yes, Bible John is alive and he resents the "Upstart" as he calls him.
Another grimy, gritty book, with much more of the Scots language in it making it difficult to follow at times.The plot is complex, involving a current serial killer who is copycatting a never-caught one of 25 years previous (the latter based on a real serial killer, Bible John). Rebus becomes obsessed with both. Yet at the same time, he is investigating the murder of an offshore oil rig worker. Along with carrying out these investigations, which take him from Ediburg to Glasgow to Aberdeen and the North Sea oil fields, Rebus is under investigation for the possible framing years before of a criminal by Rebus' mentor, whom Rebus assisted.A complicated plot, at times hard to follow due to the bewildering cast of both major and minor characters, whom Rankin just manages to keep distinct. Interesting information on the economics of off-shore oil and the working of the fields, well integrated into the plot so as not to become either annoying or distracting.
Black and Blue was the first Inspector Rebus novel I read by Ian Rankin. It's kind of in the middle of the series, but you don't need to start with the first book to know what's going one. The lead character is Inspector Rebus of the Edinbrough police. He's cranky, divorced, and drinks a little too much, but he's wicked smart. I love these books because the multiple story lines are compelling and not until the very end of the book do you really understand what they all mean.
I have all the Rebus books and like almost every one except the first one. This is a book you can pick up and read over a weekend.
A crime thriller set in Edinburgh, quite fast paced with a couple of absorbing story lines being told alongside one another. Gritty. I have read a number of Ian Rankin's books, mostly with Rebus as the main character, I have found them all to be a great read. Check out Rebus on DVD too (Ken Stott does a brilliant job portraying Rebus)... and on the plus side they keep pretty true to the books.
All the Rebus novels are page turners. Rebus as a character is so real, and so well defined, you find yourself wondering what he's doing this summer and if you shouldn't send him an interesting CD.
I read each novel with the knowledge of Edinburgh, the stories seem true to life, the dialect as is. Ian Rankin has created a policeman of true nature to Edinburgh, each novel is a must read, and if you lay it down, make sure you remember where you put it..do not loose it.