The Falls
Ian Rankin
475 pages
published in 2001

The moral of this review for me is: don't doubt Sandra when it comes to books. She had been pushing Ian Rankin on me for years, telling me how much I'd like him if I only tried one of his books and I kept going no, no, no, they're not for me. I told her I don't like crime novels, I'd rather read cozy detective stories, that I hate these socalled psychological novels where the protagonist is only marginally more sane than the villain. It's not like that, she said, why don't you try it?

So finally I did. And she was right and I was wrong. Ian Rankin can write and he sucked me right in. Even though this was the thirteenth book in a series which started in 1987. Usually such a book would be either pure formula, or so orientated towards long time followers of a series that it's incomprehensible to new readers, but neither of this is the case here.

The Falls is the thirteenth John Rebus novel. Rebus is a detective inspector in the Edinburgh police corps, at this point only a few years away from retirement, "not a team player", somewhat found of the bottle and surrounded by the ghosts of murder victims. A bit of a cliche then, but for the quality of Ian Rankin's writing. Rebus may be a cliche, but Rankin makes him come alive nonetheless, as he does for all his characters.

A student goes missing and because her daddy is rich and powerful, the case gets a bit more attention then it usually would get... One of the early leads in the case is an online puzzle game, being investigated by Rebus' colleague, DI Siobhan Clark, which leads her on a goose chase all over Edinburgh. Another lead is strange : a little wooden coffin is found in Falls, the village where the girl's parents have a house. Such coffins have turned up before, first during an historic murder case in 1836, but also more recently near places people died somewhat mysterious but nto unexplainable deaths. Coincidence, or is there some kind of serial killer on the loose? Rebus suspects the latter...

What I liked about The Falls was the realism of the police procedures; it all feels like how an investigation would unfold. Lots of dead ends and unproductive hours before the solution to the mystery is derived. The resolution of the mystery itself is a bit cliche: I had thought of it myself earlier and rejected it as too obvious. To be honest, this is not a book to read just for plot though. It's a book you read for the characters.

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Webpage created 15-05-2003, last updated 07-07-2003
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