Book: The Falls

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Book:

The Falls: An Inspector Rebus Novel

Author: Ian Rankin
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Publisher: St. Martin's Minotaur

Ian Rankin’s John Rebus, arguably the most realistic detective in crime fiction, is a brilliant but troubled man. When a young woman goes missing near his native Edinburgh, Scotland, Rebus finds himself just one small cog in the huge wheel of an inquiry set in motion by her powerfully rich father. Struggling to deal with both his own often-terrifying inner demons as well as the monstrous bureaucracy of the investigative team, Rebus finds himself drawn again and again into the case, desperately searching for the girl’s salvation, as well as his own.

In time Rebus uncovers two leads: one, a carved wooden doll stuffed tightly into a tiny casket, and the other the missing girl’s possible involvement in a dark, disturbing Internet-based role-playing game. He enlists the help of the tech-savvy DC Siobhan Clarke, who is young enough to know her way around the net, but who may not be old and wise enough to avoid potentially deadly pitfalls and traps. Meanwhile, Rebus tracks down stories of similar caskets and dolls turning up in the area deep into Edinburgh’s past, some stretching back to a time when body-snatchers turned into brutal killers.

As Rebus and Clarke delve deeper and deeper into these perilous and obscure worlds, ancient and modern evils begin to converge and soon Rebus finds he’s besieged by an impenetrable mass of secrets, lies, and deadly deceit that only he can make sense of. In The Falls, a brilliant addition to an award-winning series, both John Rebus and his creator, Ian Rankin, are at the top of their intense and satisfying form.

Reviews

Amazon.com

Edinburgh police detective John Rebus, Ian Rankin’s popular series detective, is a brilliantly realized character, as moody, dark, and melancholy as Edinburgh itself. In The Falls, he’s almost certain that missing university student Philippa Balfour is dead, but he’s less sure how she died or what her misadventure has to do with the tiny doll in a hand-sized coffin that turns up near a waterfall on the Balfour family estate. It’s not the first coffin found near the scene of a crime; could Philippa be the victim of a serial killer? The only other lead the police have is a cryptic e-mail from someone called Quiz Master, inviting Philippa—and then constable Siobhan Clarke, who responds using Philippa’s screen name—to join him in a bizarre scavenger hunt that might lead Clarke to Philippa’s body, her killer, or her own death.

This time out Rebus has a new boss, who’s no happier with his unorthodox style or impolitic attitude toward the Edinburgh establishment than his last one was. But even under department suspension, Rebus manages to tie a number of seemingly disparate and unconnected clues together and deliver a killer in a scene that even the most discerning reader may not see coming until it jumps off the page. A bestseller in the U.K., The Falls is Rankin’s best yet. —Jane Adams

Success has a price, and the remarkable acclaim (both critical and commercial) that greeted the gritty Edinburgh-set crime novels of Ian Rankin has set the author a considerable problem. How does he maintain the freshness of detail and atmosphere that have made his books such riveting reading? And how does he keep his tough detective DI John Rebus from degenerating into a series of mannerisms? If Raymond Chandler grew tired of Philip Marlowe and Conan Doyle of Holmes, Rankin would have been in good company if he gave up on Rebus. Fortunately, his belief in the character clearly remains as powerful as ever, and The Falls is the most impressive Rebus novel in many a moon. The detective’s personal problems—overused of late—are wisely sidelined in order to concentrate on a highly intriguing (and topical) plot.

When a student vanishes in Edinburgh, there is pressure on Rebus to find her, particularly as she is the scion of a family of extremely rich bankers. Needless to say, this is more than just the case of a spoilt rich girl breaking out of the cage of family responsibilities, and a carved wooden doll in a coffin found in her home village leads Rebus to the Internet role-playing game that she was involved in. And when DC Siobhan Clarke, a key member of Rebus’ team, tackles the Virtual Quizmaster, Rankin finds himself struggling to save her from the same fate as the missing girl.

Consummate plotting has always been Rankin’s trademark, and that skill is put to maximum use here. The balance between developing the characterisation of the ill-assorted team of coppers that Rebus assembles and the labyrinthine twists of the plot is maintained with an iron hand, and Rankin’s mordant eye remains as keen as ever:

“You okay, John?” Curt reached out a hand and touched his shoulder. Rebus shook his head slowly, eyes squeezed shut. Curt didn’t make it out the first time, so Rebus had to repeat what he said next: “I don’t believe in heaven.” That was the horror of it. This life was the only one you got. No redemption afterwards, no chance of wiping the slate clean and starting over. Rebus said “There is no justice in the world. You’d know more about that than I would”, Curt replied.

Barry Forshaw

Barnes and Noble

A wooden doll in a tiny coffin and an Internet role-playing game are the only clues Inspector John Rebus has to follow when his investigation of a student’s disappearance leads him on a trail that stretches back into Edinburgh’s past.

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