One of the good things about the contemporary crime fiction that can happen to itself is John Rebus and his creator Ian Rankin. Without Ian Rankin, there would have been no John Rebus. Rankin has certainly set a benchmark with his John Rebus’ series and Mortal Causes is the sixth book in this series. Without John Rebus, I won’t be reading as much crime fiction as I do. I started reading John Rebus, even before I laid my hands on Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. Things are even darker than usual this time in Mortal Causes.
It is August during the Edinburgh Festival when Inspector John Rebus is called to investigate a brutally tortured body found hanging in the medieval subterranean streets of Edinburgh. The death looks like an execution which causes Rebus to start investigating radical activists. Even worse, he discovers the victim is the son of one of Edinburgh’s most notorious criminal gang leaders, Gerald McCafferty.
With well-crafted characters and the plot so interesting the author makes the book interesting by adding a a challenging situation in which Rebus needs to develop a level of understanding with Big Ger McCafferty. It sounds darker than most of his novels and it turns to be exactly how it sounds. The book not only focuses on the life protagonist John Rebus, but makes a reader to understand the relationship between a cop and a gang leader who is personally hurt. In other words, between two human beings who might different in their doings and actions, and are completely opposite to each other in terms of society they both reside in but sharing a relationship of mutual respect yet at the same time.
As usual, there is a subplot about a female lawyer becoming a little obsessed with Rebus and causing trouble for him in his personal life. This provides a little relief from the darker parts of the story. Throughout the book there are several graphic murders and the sense of danger is very high. The paramilitary angle of the story really raises the stakes and gives the book a different feel altogether. The story is written in a tone of dry-cynical at times which adds up to the darkness it resides. It also glances on how society should work and how it actually works.
4 out of 5