Rankin, Ian. The Hanging Garden.

NY: St. Martin, 1998.

Several novels ago, Inspector John Rebus of the Edinburgh CID was responsible for putting “Big Ger” Cafferty, the local crime boss, in prison. They have an odd relationship, given the circumstances, and Rebus seems to end up visiting Cafferty on a regular basis.

That’s especially the case now that Tommy Telford has arrived from Paisley, determined to fill Cafferty’s old position and take over Edinburgh. Neither Rebus nor his bosses want that; Cafferty was at least a known quantity and he usually played by “the rules,” which mostly meant civilians were never a fair target. Telford is much younger and much nastier and he recognizes no rules. And then there’s “Mr. Pink Eyes,” a Chechen immigrant down in Tyneside, with whom Telford seems to have some sort of relationship himself.

The simmering gang war is beginning to show casualties — and then Rebus’s grown daughter, Samantha, is struck in an apparent hit-and-run. Was it an attempted murder? Or just a serious warning? And who from — Cafferty or Telford? It doesn’t matter: Sammy is in a near-coma and Rebus is on the warpath. He’s going to take down Telford and his connections and he doesn’t really care what pacts he has to sign with the devil to do it. And as if his plate weren’t full enough already, there’s Candice, a young prostitute imported illegally from Sarajevo, and whose soul Rebus is trying hard to save. It doesn’t help that she looks so much like Sammy. But she just might also be the key to the whole gang thing.

Rebus has become a fully developed character by this point in the series, struggling with alcohol (he’s presently on the wagon, with the support of his old friend, Jack Morton), and his relationships with his ex-wife and his ex-lover. Rebus lives for his job. It’s who he is, but it also gets to him. “Never get personally involved: it was the golden rule. And practically every case he worked, Rebus broke it. He sometimes felt that the reason he became so involved in his cases was that he had no life of his own. He could only live through other people.” Marvelous stuff.

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Published in: on 29 March 2014 at 6:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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