Rankin, Ian. Strip Jack.

NY: St. Martin, 1992.

Inspector John Rebus of the Edinburgh CID is going about his business, trying to find out who stole a stack of very rare books from a local university professor, and attempting to figure out who might have killed a young woman and pitched her body in the Forth, and then he’s roped in to take part in a raid on a brothel in an upscale part of town.

But among the customers caught in the raid (but not with his pants down) is a local Member of Parliament, Gregor Jack — and in the circumstances, the cops have a lot of fun making jokes about that word “member.” He’s a very popular man with his constituents, though, and reportedly a straight-shooter as MPs go, and Rebus begins to wonder if he wasn’t set up for trial-by-media. Naturally, being the sort of free-wheeler he is, Rebus begins poking into things, and not always quietly. Mr. Jack has a group of old friends known as “the Pack,” and they seem to be taking positions to protect him as far as they can, but Rebus has his doubts about some of them, too. And then Jack’s wife is murdered — and she was a very different sort of person from her husband, and with her own group of hangers-on. It all gets pretty complicated pretty fast, and Rankin does good work in constructing a complex but logical and believable plot.

He also has done a good job with the milieu in which Rebus works and lives. There’s his ambitious young sergeant, Brian Holmes, who has recently moved into Jack’s constituency, and his boss, the chief superintendent, who may be coming unraveled, thus opening up opportunities for the more ruthless among Rebus’s colleagues, and his newly developing relationship with Patience (she wants him to move in with her but he’s strangely reluctant). This is perhaps the most satisfying entry in the series so far.

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