Friday, 13 July 2012

Strip Jack by Ian Rankin - Book Review

Author: Ian Rankin

Genre: Crime Fiction

Recommended to: People who like to read crime fiction and those who love Rebus and Rankin's style of writing.

Recommended age group: 18+

Rating: 8/10

Publisher's write-up:

'MP Gregor Jack is caught in an Edinburgh brothel with a prostitute only too keen to show off her considerable assets. When the media horde begins baying for political blood Jack's friends rally round to protect him. But some of those friends – particularly his wife's associates – are not so squeaky clean themselves.

Initially Detective Inspector Rebus is sympathetic to the MP's dilemma – who hasn't occasionally succumbed to temptation? - but with the the disappearance of Jack's wife the glamour surrounding the popular young man begins to tarnish. Someone wants to strip Jack naked and Rebus wants to know why . . . '

Strip Jack, named after the card game Strip Jack Naked (Beggar my neighbour) is the fourth novel featuring Detective Inspector John Rebus and after solving a case at London in Tooth & Nail, he is back in Scotland. A significant change has taken place in Rebus' personal life, that is, he has regained a woman's support, with Rebus having started a relationship with Dr. Patience Aitken (but neither Rhona nor Sammy appear in this novel).


The story begins with a police operation; raiding a brothel in a relatively high-class neighbourhood but, they happen to find the Right Honourable Gregor Jack MP, North and South Esk constituency (fictitious) inside, who, so far in the public eye, had been a 'Mr. Clean'. However, Rebus was convinced that there was something strange about it, considering the horde of reporters who were waiting outside the brothel during the raid, something which only the police had known. Jack's wife is missing and is eventually found in the river, murdered. MP Gregor Jack is bereaved and at the same time, is going through a bad time because of the brothel incident and John Rebus, is keen to uncover the mystery surrounding this incident.

 There is a variation in pace, compared to that of the predecessors (review(s) available, check the List of Reviews). The story doesn't begin with the murder and it happens in due course of the plot and till then, you only had Rebus wandering, casually talking to the MP who caught, was investigating in a case regarding stolen books and all these also gave time for the author to bring out the character of Patience Aitken. Rebus was as brilliant as ever (and so was Rankin's style of writing), much more interesting than what he was in the other novels, with his ingenious puns and cynicism. In my opinion, Rebus has become a much better detective now, maybe because Rankin too, has become a much better crime novelist.  

 The plot was amazing, moving across several places in Scotland, several characters with different occupation, different background and personality but somehow all of them were connected to the case in some way or the other but at the same time I felt that the number of characters were too many which made me lose track of it, at times. It had nearly everything in it, an enthusiastic, slave-driving police detective with dull superiors and a troubled relationship, a politician in trouble with his associates trying their best to protect him and of course, a very good mystery supported with interesting investigations carried out by the police.   

I've always felt that a crime / thriller novel without an apposite end is meaningless, like in the case of the predecessors of the Inspector Rebus series but finally, the author has managed to deliver a fitting end to a good plot.

Thankfully, there are 14 more novels in the Inspector Rebus series and I hope the upcoming novels are even better than Strip Jack.


I was always told that the initial works of Ian Rankin weren't all that impressive but I was more than satisfied with Strip Jack. After reading the publisher's write-up, I initially didn't like the idea of a story based on an incident that takes place at a brothel, of all places but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be although, I would have preferred some other location but the aforementioned location probably suits the plot best. After a slow start, the plot maintained a good pace which kept me gripped to the novel, to the extent that someone as slow as I am, could complete a 278 page novel within a week.

Considering the plot, the twists and turns and the presence of John Rebus, I shall happily give this book a rating of 8/10 and to all those who quit reading the Inspector Rebus novels, reconsider your decision and read Strip Jack.

Have a nice day,


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