Monday, April 22, 2013

Book Review: Tooth & Nail by Ian Rankin

Tooth and Nail is one in the series of novels by Ian Rankin featuring the character Inspector Rebus. Scottish detective Rebus is summoned to New Scotland Yard, in London, to help catch a serial killer, named by the media "The Wolfman". At first Rebus struggles with the investigation and this is not helped by the frosty reception he is given by his new colleagues but when he makes a couple of allies he gets on the trail of the killer and rather than wait to react to the crimes he attempts to provoke the killer into providing some clues.

This book, refreshingly, does not fall into the many cliches that are often found in serial killer novels. The reader will find themselves eager to learn about the main characters as they are developed in the early part of the story whilst at the same time the fundamentals of the investigation are outlined. The investigation proceeds as more killings occur and some help from an unexpected source adds the mystery and finally the twist that readers come to expect from a detective/thriller novel.

Apart from being a thoroughly readable story, one of this book's best assets are the characters. Detective Rebus  is real, he is not some all-knowing super hero and neither is he the stereotypical worn-out investigator that appear in so many detective stories. His London counterpart, George Flight, is also recognizable as a real person and not a cliched character; a good policeman, friendly and polite but also with reservations. The third main character, Liza Frazer, is also interesting and someone with talent yet not quite the finished article in terms of her criminal investigation skills.

Tooth and Nail is a book which really made me turn the pages and believe in the characters and the investigation, in fact one of this book's downfalls, in my option, is that it is not long enough to deal properly with the situation the author creates. This leads on to the biggest disappointment here, for me, which was the sudden way that Rebus puts the case together; as if by magic he solves the case and an otherwise excellent book is wrapped up too quickly for my liking, although the ending does contain a skillful plot twist by the author.

I would recommend this book anyone who enjoys detective novels; if you are looking for a new crime-writer to start reading then Ian Rankin is definitely worth a try. Although I have never read any of the others in this series, the quality of the writing and plot are good enough to please the author's established fans. Readers who enjoy detective stories and serial killer novels should read this offering from a skilled writer but it falls short of being a classic for me.

 Score: 8.5/10 

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