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Mortal Causes
Ian Rankin
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Mortal Causes (Inspector Rebus #6)

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  4,831 ratings  ·  184 reviews
In Edinburgh you're never far from a peaceful spot, or from a hellish one either. Now, in the heart of summer, in the midst of a nationalist festival, Inspector John Rebus is on the murder case of a young man left hanging in a spot where his screams would never be heard. To find the victim's identity--and his killer--Rebus searches from Edinburgh's most violent neighborhoo
Published (first published 1994)
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Reading Rebus novels in whatever order I find them is not doing Rankin's work any favour, but at least I've put off reading the final book until I've got to the others. The fact that some Rebus novels are brilliant while others are simply okay is emphasised by my scattershot approach. Mortal Causes is not one of the stronger Rebus mysteries.

Sectarian violence as the backdrop makes for an interesting through line but it feels that Rankin did not do as much as he could have to construct the novel.
Loved the opening of this book, creepy and disturbing. Having just visited the now subterranean Mary King Close, I couldn't think of a better site for a gruesome murder. Appreciated Rebus' work with the Special Branch in this one; gave him yet another group of officers to antagonize. Hope I see Abernethy in a later book as found the relationship between him and Rebus interesting and would like to see more of it. Very good plot in this book although a bit convoluted at times especially with all t ...more
Just gritty enough to make me feel dangerous for reading it but not so much that I needed to shower afterwards.
For fans of Inspector Rebus, #6 in the series has Rebus, still stringing along his girlfriend Dr Patience, in the middle of a Scottish/Ulster gun running operation. Rebus gets up close with the locals in a rough housing project and also tangles with his most dangerous adversary, crime boss Big Ger Cafferty.

Perhaps in my top 3 Rankin books so far. Not overly long and it is well paced. Edinburgh stars again, can't remember if there was an obligatory Rolling Stones shout out.
Man, I don't think of myself as a dummy, but I had a hard time following the Irish and Scottish politics in here, in addition to the slang etc....I'm an Ian Rankin (and Rebus fan) but this one was a little bit hard for me on that front.
I'm reading these books completely out of order, but I think it's pretty obvious they improve with age. Mortal Causes was good, not great, not quite as complex as later books and more focused on Rebus than Siobhan or other supporting characters. There was also room for a character or two drawn in with a fairly broad brush for Rankin.
I still love these books, but I feel as if the later ones are written with a better awareness for how much of a PITA Rebus must be to deal with. I got pissed off at
I think there are 18 books in Rankin's Inspector John Rebus series. This is the one I read first. The series takes place in Edinburgh--which is cold, rainy, dark and dour for much of the year, with a nice stiff wind blowing in from the North Sea in the winter. It's a very old city, with the oldest part having been built on top of ruins from centuries past. (which you can go down to and visit) And Edinburgh's got its very own Scottish castle on a hill, and a mini-mountain right in town called Art ...more
It's been quite a long time since I read a Rebus novel and I really enjoyed getting to know the character again. I was surprised by how familiar I was with the supporting cast. I think this is the sixth book in the series and the cast has grown quite large but all the characters seemed well developed.

The most interesting part of the book for me was the continuing relationship between Rebus and the local gangster Big Ger Cafferty. They have a understanding of mutual respect and obviously see par
Just to get you into the mood of the book, the first scene in Mortal Causes is of a man being tortured to death. His body is found not long later in one of Edinburgh's underground streets, that was closed for building work. Inspector Rebus is soon on the case, but then the Scottish Crime Squad and also Special Branch from London are taking an interest. Is it connected to the bomb threats that have been coming in frequently recently? With the Edinburgh festival in full swing, there's even more pr ...more
Ian Rankin is one of my favorite authors. His John Rebus series, set in Edinburgh, features a main character as dark as the Scottish landscape. Things are even darker than usual in Mortal Causes, which is set during the late summer Edinburgh festival. Usually, the worst the police have to worry about are pickpockets and the Can Gang, but this year the festival is under threat from terrorist groups with ties to the Irish and Scots separatists. Rebus and colleagues deal with this threat and the mu ...more
Nicholas Whyte
I was already becoming a fan of Rankin's novels about Edinburgh policeman John Rebus, but particularly enjoyed this one for the Northern Ireland dimension. Last time Rebus went outside Scotland (to London, in Tooth and Nail) it wasn't really a success, but here he takes an effective day trip to Belfast(though he mysteriously visits a fictional Malone Road police station) to chase up Loyalist terrorists who may be planning to attack the Edinburgh Festival. The whole picture came together rather n ...more
One of the (many) things I like about these books is that they go way beyond the crime genre and are basically Ian Rankin's running commentary on what's happening in Scotland/the world. This time it's a little excursion to Northern Ireland and sectarianism, as well as the Fringe Festival. I find these books educational and read them with a dictionary next to me - can't remember when I last learned so many new words. (Probably in an interview with JDB from the Manics.) Where's the next Rebus nove ...more
Mike Gabor
Another excellent entry in the Rebus series. The story opens with the cold blooded execution of a young man. Rebus is assigned the case and soon discovers that the victim is the son of his long time nemisis Big Ger Cafferty. Even with Cafferty in jail he is able to apply pressure on Rebus to find the killer. While this is going on Rebus is also looking into the activites at a local youth center, and dealing with the annual Edinburgh festival. On the personal front he's having problems with his c ...more
It is the end of summer and the Edinburgh Finge festival is on. The tourists are out in full force and the festival is threatened by terrorists and bombs. Under the old city lies another from medieval times and this where a young man is tortured and then shot 6 times.

Inspector Rebus is seconded to a terrorism squad which is very much to his liking because he has the freedom to investigate and wander where he likes. Rebus even ventures into the Gar-B, a housing project even the police have little
Rebus investigates gang wars and soon uncovers a plot to start a Scottish civil war. John Rebus is a grouchy cop, but we the readers love him dearly for his humanity.
these get better and better as the series progresses
Derek Baldwin
3.5* A fair enough read but maybe not the most interesting of whodunnits: the journey is fine but the destination is fairly underwhelming. Poor John Rebus has to take quite a few sucker punches as the story unfolds, but does so with gallows humour intact and with many many puns cracked along the way.
Sean McCann
This is the first Rebus I've had to rate below a three-er, initially intending never to drop below that rating if I finished the book without wishing I'd pulled the ripcord earlier. This is Rankin and Rebus tackling Scotland's problem with Ulster's sectarianism, something that must blight communities terribly where the two sides come up against each other, so a theme that is eminently worthy of Rankin's focus, yet I felt he dropped the baton here in sight of the finishing line. Shirtless teenage ...more
I've bought a few Rebus novels in my local library booksales over the last year, and picked up this one at random after some urging by an old school-mate and frequently hearing Ian Rankin being praised in the media. The setting, and the topical (for the time) nature of the plot were very interesting to me, but sadly the writing didn't cut the mustard. By about half way through I decided to skim rapidly to the end, without even bothering to read the climactic scene. It's a pity, because I really ...more
Terrorism! Isn't life so much easier now that ALL terrorists are Muslims and you can spot them much more readily? This book is set in the 1990's though, when terrorists looked just like any other Brit. Not only did they all look alike but they worshiped the SAME God, albeit in different establishments. They were often funded by people who lived a long way from where the bombs would explode, so not much has changed there.

(My tongue is firmly in my cheek as I write this btw, lest anyone should ge
Tom Benson
This story features the damaged character of Inspector John Rebus. The policeman comes to life rapidly for the reader and because he isn’t infallible, handsome, or a flashy character; he feels real. He has a vulnerability which comes across, but it is tempered by his dogged determination. He is at once, tough, but fragile.
Edinburgh is one of my favourite cities, and at first sight is not the first place I would expect to set a murder story, or aim to create a chain of events that would hold the
Rebus seems to be a little more of a lone wolf in this one despite there being plenty of other police and SB involved in the case. And a touch more rogue as well. "Where would the crime detection rates be without a few shortcuts?" he muses. And he takes them freely.
The poor underbelly of Edinburgh, Gar-B especially, is well portrayed and frighteningly lawless.
A little convoluted in plot, but then life is isn't it?
I am hooked on Ian Rankin - reading his books is like eating popcorn, I just cannot stop. I usually don't read two books in a row by the same author, but with Rankin I make an exception. I like Rebus. He can behave badly, but just when I expect him to make the wrong decision, he surprises me. And he is shrewd, not just smart, but shrewd. I am glad there are still lots more Rankin books to read.
This is the sixth book in Rankin’s series featuring Inspector John Rebus. The series might perhaps be described as nouveau hard-boiled. Our hero Rebus is weary and cynical, but he’s still determined to get the bad guys off the streets, and he’s damn good at it. Although the past-his-prime, depressed, lonely, hard-drinking, but brilliant detective is a bit of a staple these days, Rankin manages to make Rebus more than a mere type.

I got a bit of an education from this book about the links between
Another good solid read in this series. A tortured body is found in a medieval cellar during the Edinburgh Festival and Rebus and his team investigate. I have really started to enjoy this series. Rebus and his supporting cast are becoming more fleshed out and believable and the plots in the last couple of books have been much more to my liking.
This was a bit of a disappointment. There were too many political references and way to many dissident paramilitary groups to mean anything to an American reader. All of this took away from the pacing, plot and Rebus'character development.
I found this Rebus novel patchy. I enjoyed the subject matter, but the plot was too tangled and, for me, unrewarding it it's resolution. Some great dialogue, as ever, but I missed the regular peripheral characters.
Chuck Slack
I read this book as we were vacationing in Scotland. Reading about Mary King's Close at the same time as seeing it was surreal.

This is a great read.
Ryan Mishap
This is a merry-go-round of leads, suspects, stories, and relationships professional and personal going out of whack. In other words, all the good ingredients for an entertaining mystery. I'm sure this series doesn't need my reviews, so I'll just mention a couple bothersome things.

The standard sexist double-standard certainly plays out here: women are mostly described by their attributes that appeal to men while the male characters are given straight-forward descriptions, if any. Tracy pointed t
Kathleen Hagen
Mortal Causes, by Ian Rankin b-plus, Narrated by Michael Page, Produced by Brilliance Audio, downloaded from

In the heart of summer, in the midst of a nationalist festival, Inspector John Rebus is on the murder case of a young man left hanging in a spot where his screams would never be heard. To find the victim's identity, - and his killer - Rebus searches from Edinburgh's most violent neighborhood to Belfast, Northern Ireland, among petty thugs, gunrunners, and heavyweight criminals
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AKA Jack Harvey.

Born in the Kingdom of Fife in 1960, Ian Rankin graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1982 and then spent three years writing novels when he was supposed to be working towards a PhD in Scottish Literature. His first Rebus novel was published in 1987; the Rebus books are now translated into 22 languages and are bestsellers on several continents.

Ian Rankin has been elected a
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Other Books in the Series

Inspector Rebus (1 - 10 of 20 books)
  • Knots and Crosses (Inspector Rebus, #1)
  • Hide and Seek (Inspector Rebus, #2)
  • Tooth and Nail (Inspector Rebus, #3)
  • Strip Jack (Inspector Rebus, #4)
  • The Black Book (Inspector Rebus, #5)
  • Let It Bleed (Inspector Rebus, #7)
  • Black and Blue (Inspector Rebus, #8)
  • The Hanging Garden (Inspector Rebus, #9)
  • Dead Souls (Inspector Rebus, #10)
  • Set in Darkness (Inspector Rebus, #11)

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“The Scottish vernacular is rich in colourful euphemisms for inebriation: ‘stocious’, ‘stotting’, ‘guttered’, ‘steaming’, ‘steamboats’, ‘wellied’ and ‘hoolit’ are just a few. Another is ‘mortal’, as in ‘I was fair mortal last night’ (meaning ‘I was very drunk indeed’). So ‘Mortal Causes’ evoked, in my mind, the demon drink, just as surely as it did any darker and more violent imagery.” 0 likes
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