Strip Jack by Ian Rankin


I feel like I’m on the streets of Edinburgh with the smell of hops and chilling wind funnelled at you. Its beautiful cobbled streets and Georgian crescents also come with a gritty, sticky underside, maybe an empty whisky bottle and an abandoned shoe. That’s why I read Rankin. Plus there’s Rebus himself.

Because Strip Jack is a fairly formulaic detective novel. Gregor Jack, ambitious politician, is arrested in an Edinburgh brothel. His wife ends up dead. Grizzled and grumpy Detective John Rebus travels the Highlands in search of his murderer.

Not my favourite- it’s more plotted and less personality-driven than earlier books. Rebus is a great protagonist but we see less of his dysfunctional life as he trundles up and down motorways. The shift in setting from Edinburgh to the Highlands doesn’t give the same sense of place or atmosphere.

It is definitely still Tartan Noir; a genre defined by morally ambiguous detectives solving nasty crimes and looking for personal redemption. All in Scotland. And it’s a good read, with bags of character (in particular the scenes set in the police station or in the golf club), maybe due to the refreshing use of Scottish dialect.

But a dinnae ken..

Read: if you like complex, gritty detective stories

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