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The Black Book by Ian Rankin
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Nov 27, 11

Read from November 15 to 27, 2011

The Black Book finds Inspector Rebus juggling three investigations: who conked his underling on the head outside an Elvis-themed restaurant and why; what happened, who was killed, and who was responsible at a fire at the old Central Hotel years ago; and how can he get to Big Ger Cafferty, a crime lord with a money lending empire? To solve the crimes, Rebus has to navigate a maze of betrayals, jealous colleagues, hostile business interests, and dangerous villains.

On a personal level, brother Michael, fresh out of jail, moves into the apartment that Rebus has begun renting to students after moving in with his psychiatrist girlfriend Patience, but when Patience kicks Rebus out after he ditches her for a late night of work too many times, he suddenly finds himself sharing quarters with his brother and the students. When Michael takes the brunt of an attack intended for Rebus, the tension gets notched up that much higher.

There's so much to like about this series: a memorable central character who will bend every rule but won't break his own moral codes, solid secondary characters who you come to care about over the series, complex character relationships, the vivid descriptions of the city of Edinburgh and surrounding towns, Rankin's great gift for turning a phrase, and a considerable amount of incidental humor. I'm continually impressed with how Rankin's plots balance and nest so neatly, bringing together disparate story lines gracefully, but keeping the pace up by jumping swiftly between the different stories within the novel. This is definitely in my top five crime series.
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