Saturday, 3 December 2011

Tooth and Nail by Ian Rankin - Book Review

Publisher's write up:

Because the first body was found in Wolf Street, because the murderer takes a bite from each body, the press have found a new terror, Wolfman...

Drafted down to the Big Smoke thanks to his supposed expertise in the modus operandi of serial killers, Inspector John Rebus is on a train south from Edinburgh. His Scotland Yard opposite number, George Flight, isn't too happy at yet more interference. It's bad enough having several Chief Inspectors on your back without being hounded at every turn by an upstart Jock. Rebus is going to have to deal with racial prejudice as well as the predations of a violent maniac. When he's offered a serial killer profile of the Wolfman by an attractive lady psychologist, it's too good an opportunity to turn down. But in finding an ally, he may have given his enemies an easy means of attack.”

Tooth and Nail is the third book in the Inspector Rebus series. Its predecessor, Hide & Seek was a disappointment and it hence, when I started reading Tooth & Nail, naturally, I didn't have any high expectations on this book. I became eager to read Tooth & Nail when I learnt that Rebus' next case is not going to be at Edinburgh, but at London.

London is terrorised by a murderer who has already killed four women, women with absolutely no connection (in terms of profession, ethnicity, background, etcetera). The killer is christened Wolfman by the press since the body of the former's victim was found at Wolf Street. John Rebus, after his successful tracking down of a serial killer in his first adventure (Knots & Crosses), his fame, to his surprise, reached the south, and he was deemed an expert with serial killers (little did the Scotland Yard know that the first case was a personal confrontation). So, he had to carry with the burden of expectation from the Lothian and Borders police back at Edinburgh and at the same time, cope up with the racial slur from the London folk.

Probably because I didn't have any high expectation, I found this book to be quite interesting. After a gap in Hide & Seek, Rebus' personal life had been touched upon again, with a sub-plot in the book on his personal life and it was also reasonably well connected to the main plot. Although the usual sidekicks of Rebus don't appear in this, his very presence, owing to his astute characteristics, is more than enough to make the book interesting. Rankin also managed to grip the reader's fingers to the pages of this book, and I was constantly guessing who this Wolfman was going to be and what made the job all the more difficult was that at a particular stage in the book, the author manages to convince the reader that around half a dozen characters have equal chance of being the Wolfman.

Since Rankin had already moved out of Scotland, in order to not lose his identity as a Scottish crime novelist, he also introduced a lot of Scottish words such as hoolit, messages (groceries), wersh, etcetera.

I also started to introduce Scottish words into the text, perhaps to ensure that I wouldn't lose them entirely. After all, living in rural south-west France, I had few opportunities to say things like wersh(sour), winching(going steady) and hoolit(drunk)”. - Ian Rankin

But, like most of the other Ian Rankin books I've read so far (The Flood, Knots& Crosses, Watchman, Hide & Seek, Tooth & Nail and A Question of Blood), Tooth & Nail too had a disappointing finish (Hide & Seek's was satisfactory while A Question of Blood's finish was good). This maybe owing to the fact that Rankin as a writer is still young but when it comes to a crime novel, the end is very crucial and if that isn't proper, it undermines the novel as a whole. There were also a few loose ends, topics which needn't even have been brought up, put in crude terms, done just to increase the number of pages and make the reader make stupid guesses about the Wolfman.

In terms of language, facts, the amount of excitement it offered to the reader and the finish, in a scale of ten, I'd give this book a seven.

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Rating : 7 / 10

Have a nice day,


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