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Archive for the ‘Cold Case’ Category

As Detective Inspector John Rebus, retired, talks to his medical examiner girlfriend, Deborah Quant, over dinner in the Caledonian Hotel restaurant, he recalls the murder there, over thirty years ago, of a young woman, Maria Turquand. The killer was never caught. With nothing but time on his hands, Rebus decides to investigate the case, imploring his former coworker, Siobhan Clarke to  bring him the cold case files.

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The day after Rebus chats with police officer, Robert Chatham, who years previously spearheaded a review of the case when new evidence was introduced, said Officer Chatham’s dead body was found washed up on shore, Rebus surmises it has something to do with his cold case.

How this cold case can be made to intersect with Clarke’s new assault and battery case perpetrated against known gangster Darryl Christie, only an experienced mystery writer such as Rankin can achieve.

Rather Be the Devil reunites Rebus with his co-workers, Clarke and Malcolm Fox. In addition, he meets up with his ‘friendly enemies’, Christie and Big Ger Cafferty. I haven’t read any of Rankin’s previous novels, so I was unfamiliar with the history of Rebus and his cohorts. While such knowledge wasn’t necessary to enjoy the book, it would have been nice. In addition, one arc of the story deals with issues surrounding Rebus’ health, which again, I had no familiarity.

The first 50 or so pages of Rather Be the Devil were a little slow, until the story got going. Then it was a reasonably fast read. The characters were well fleshed out, although I kept getting them confused with each other (Christie/Cafferty). The plot was interesting. Apparently Rebus never played by the rules, which he certainly does not in this episode.

While Rather Be the Devil was an enjoyable and satisfying read, I don’t know that I’d run out and start from the first book in the series (this is #21) or even line up to read the next in the series, if/when that is published. I think I’m more of a Peter Robinson/Inspector Banks fan.

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DarknessDarknessWell, it seems like I’ve just become a fan of British mysteries. Not the Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes variety. I like some of the modern mystery writers like Peter Robinson and now John Harvey. Unfortunately, I’ve started at the end because Darkness, Darkness is the last book in the Charlie Resnick series.

In 2014, Jenny Hardwick’s body has been found under a porch foundation. She had disappeared in November 1984, in the midst of the Coal Miners’ Strike in Great Britain. While she was vocally pro-strike, her husband Barry, a miner, was anti to the point of working during the strike…a scab. While back then the reason for Jenny’s disappearance was uncertain, it was assumed she ran off with a man to start a new life, leaving Barry and her three children behind. The investigation at the time led to no conclusions.

With the reappearance of Jenny’s body, the case needs to be reopened. Resnick, who was redundant, but came back to the police on a part time basis, is asked to help Catherine Njoroge, a young, very Black detective with the investigation (several strikes against her). Don’t make anything big out of it. No one wants to bring up police issues from the strike.

Knowing very little about the Coal Miners’ Strike did not, in any way, detract from this book. But Harvey does supply a bibliography for those interested in learning more about it. Not knowing the back story also did not detract from it. Darkness, Darkness flips back and forth between Jenny’s life leading up to her disappearance and the investigation of her murder.  It also flips between Resnick’s current and immediate past lives, the flipping being somewhat abrupt but not confusingly so.

In some ways, Resnick reminds me of Peter Robinson’s Inspector Alan Banks, possibly because they both have lives outside of the police force, they both like music, they both plod along until they get to the answer. In addition, many of Robinson’s stories are cold cases, which apparently I like….a lot!!!! (Yes, I did watch Cold Case when it was on TV.)

Begun in 1988, the Resnick series has 12 novels, 16 short stories and two television adaptations (you bet I’m going to try and find the TV adaptations). While I’m not going to go back to the beginning (you’d understand why if you saw my library reserve list), I will keep an eye out for more John Harvey mysteries. I’m suggesting you do the same.

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