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Saints of the Shadow Bible by Ian Rankin
Reviewed by Raul

John Rebus has been one of my favorite detectives for years, and Malcolm Fox is becoming another; that Ian Rankin, one of the best mystery writers around, can create two disparate characters who are compelling on an individual level shows his mastery of the genre. In the Saints of the Shadow Bible, Rebus and Fox work together to solve a thirty year old case that is related to Rebus’ early years.

When Rebus started as a DI in the Summerhall CID, he was inducted into a club of good ol’ boy cops named the Saints. These were the cops who regularly coerced, lied, and sometimes beat confessions out of suspects. On one occasion, a snitch named Saunders avoided an inquiry into the beating death of a man with the Saints’ help. Fox becomes involved because the solicitor general wants to prosecute the man since the double jeopardy laws have changed in Scotland, and Saunders may testify against the Saints.

Meanwhile Rebus, demoted to DS, is working a case with DI Siobhan Clarke involving a car accident that has suspicious undertones. The friendly banter that has developed over the years between the two detectives plays itself out delightfully well in this book; Clarke is Rebus’ superior officer, but that does not stop the ribbing that goes back and forth. When the simple investigation is complicated by more serious crimes, Rebus is convinced that there is more going on that what they have discovered.

Fox, on the outs from the Complaints, is eager to find out the truth about what really happened thirty years ago, and uses Rebus to get information on the Saints. The remaining members of Summerhall CID, in particular the former director Gilmour, ask Rebus to get information on the inquiry and report back to them. When evidence begins to disappear, the inquiry takes on a darker tone. The book illustrates why Rebus is such a remarkable character, for no one can play both sides against the middle as well as he does.

The best part of the book has to be Rebus and Fox working side by side. A straight-laced cop like Fox and the pragmatic Rebus soldier on despite the deceit because they both want to find out the truth. Rebus helps the solicitor general’s inquiry when it becomes stuck and Fox helps Rebus and Clarke make actual progress on the accident case. There is a new respect burgeoning between the two, and fans can feel confident that either a little bit of Rebus will rub off on Fox or some of Fox will rub off on Rebus.


Ian Rankin speaks about & signs Saints of the Shadow Bible here at BookPeople on Tuesday, January 28 at 7pm. Books & tickets for the signing are now available in-store and via We are currently taking orders for signed copies of Saints of the Shadow Bible. We ship worldwide. 

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