|Straight after my first Rankin read, I couldn't help but buy another (I didn't particularly want to buy another, just couldn't help it). These things remind me of Frank Sinatra songs: start with a flourish, _very_ slowly build up, and then go out with aplomb.
I still think the books are very weak in terms of atmosphere, action and spatial relation (no doubt because of my lack of Scottish geography). Timing is also a little hard to fathom even though this book is extraordinarily linear in that respect. It's just that it took me longer to read the book (about three weeks, actually) than the time the book spans (about ten days, I think). I'm sure it wouldn't harm the scan if Rankin made some references to durations and distances that journeys take. Knowing the time of year the action takes place might help the reader to feel more of the climate.
What makes the book really compelling though are the characters and the plot. There are as many characters as a book can have without losing the reader, and each one has a persona that you get to know just as if you were DI Rebus, the hero. To give the plot away: a man runs into a school and kills two students and injures the other before turning the gun on himself, except that in the final analysis it transpires that it was the injured student who had pulled the trigger on the other two, because he was jealous when he found they were watching his girlfriend's web cam which looked over her bedroom twenty-four hours a day. During the course of the investigation lots of other characters and connections enter the picture, including army investigators who want to cover things up, Edinburgh goths (punks) and gangs, and a bunch of criminals dealing in drugs and diamonds. Oh, and a slime-ball politician, and a troublesome journalist.
Just to mix things further, there is a sub-story which pervades the main one but does not really get developed: a man burns to death taped to a chair in his house while a chip pan fire takes hold, and the hero goes through the whole adventure with burned hands. He says it is coincidence, and sure enough it turns out to be true. This adds nothing to the overall plot, except to provide an excuse to introduce some more characters and make the book a bit bigger.
Whodunnit still isn't my genre. The actual resolution of this book comes near the end when a result from the forensics lab. turns up out of the blue with the information that the suspect could not have injured the survivor. That kind of throws the rest of the book out of the window, which almost makes me feel like I've wasted my time, except I haven't. It is the brilliantly real dialogue and the crafted interplay between all the characters that gives real entertainment to the reader. I'm not one for whodunnits and I'm definitely not one for soap opera, but I have to admit I'm getting hooked on this author's output.