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

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  6,357 Ratings  ·  268 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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Andrew Smith
Nov 08, 2016 Andrew Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What do you call a haircut in an asylum? A lunatic fringe.

It’s August and Edinburgh’s Festival Fringe is in full flow. It’s the largest arts festival in the world, so the city is brimming with people. Amongst the mayhem, or rather ‘below’ it, a gruesome murder has taken place. In the depths of the city sits a hidden street, long ago closed off and at each end and built over by subsequent generations. This hidden warren is now a tourist attraction but it’s temporarily closed due to some ongoin
Dec 02, 2015 Phrynne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is number 6 in the Rebus series and it is a good solid read. I admit I skimmed some of the detail about Scottish and Irish religion and politics but that did not spoil the story for me. Rebus is in a good place in this one and even seems to be enjoying his relationship with Patience some of the time. This will not last I am sure. They are patently not suited to each other! There's quite a lot of blood and gore and a good deal of police procedure which I enjoy. Altogether a fast, easy read a ...more
Kirsten **Be A Dragon**
If you want a clearly written and gritty mystery, you can't go far wrong with the Inspector Rebus series by Ian Rankin. The books are short and intense and, as an American, the police work in Scotland is interesting. This particular book takes place during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and involves terrorism and organized crime. Very enjoyable and I will definitely continue with this series.
Mar 07, 2011 Alex rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
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.
Jul 27, 2013 Lori rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction
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
Jan 31, 2016 Margaret rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, 2016-challenge
Excellent crime novel on many levels.

A young man is found murdered in Mary King's Close. He turns out to have major criminal connections which will cause a headache for John Rebus in more ways than one.

One of the major threads of the story involves extremist nationalists wanting an independent Scotland. Even though the book is set in the early 1990s, this has resonance with the Scottish referendum, and with the current Brexit discussions.

Excellent book. Highly recommended.
Just gritty enough to make me feel dangerous for reading it but not so much that I needed to shower afterwards.
Miriam Smith
May 25, 2016 Miriam Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
John Rebus must be my all time favourite detective, and these earlier books are brilliant. I thoroughly enjoyed this and would certainly recommend to all police procedural lovers out there.
Considering how short this book is - only 278 pages - it took me a while to finish it. Part of it is that it DID drag a bit more than his books usually do. However, another part is that it's so bleak and dark - even more so than a lot of his books. This is John Rebus still in his prime. Published in 1994, the book hearkens back to the "troubles" in Northern Ireland. Rebus was in the army and spent some time there, and his memories - just alluded to but never revealed - are dark and troubling. Wh ...more
Sep 07, 2014 Ron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: u-k, crime-fiction
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.
Jul 24, 2011 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-love-mysteries
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.
Amanda Patterson
Excellent. Rankin is the best British crime writer ever.
Dec 05, 2015 A.M. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own
It’s Edinburgh Festival time and a body is found in a relatively unknown area of the city; an abandoned street under the current street. It’s hung in the old butcher shop; with a six pack (a bullet in each joint) but this one has an extra in the head. Kneecapping (with just two shots) is an old IRA (green and catholic) thing and a six shot is a Loyalist (orange and protestant) punishment for traitors. But the victim is just a kid. Even here in Scotland, the football teams split along sectarian l ...more
Jul 27, 2011 Scruffy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 28, 2011 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 25, 2009 Nms rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Steve Haywood
Jan 08, 2012 Steve Haywood rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
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
Mike Gabor
Jun 10, 2013 Mike Gabor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british-mystery
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
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
Jun 24, 2012 Dana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 23, 2015 Christina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 13, 2015 Gesine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 23, 2011 Mike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 22, 2015 Gary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The 6th book in the Inspector Rebus series of books by Ian Rankin. I hadn't read any Ian Rankins books for sometime and decided to delve back into them and if I am honest I was a little disappointed with this one. I am a fan of Rebus and Ian Rankin in particular but this story failed to grip me. It is well written and the strong characters are all there but not quite enough for me.
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.
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.
Sep 13, 2014 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 02, 2009 Godzilla rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, 2009
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.
Hannah Polley
Mar 06, 2016 Hannah Polley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, fiction, ian-rankin
Another great book in the Rebus series. I struggled to follow some of the names as there were lots of criminals involved! But I feel that these books get better as they go along as it feels like Rebus is developing as a character throughout the series.
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Around the Year i...: Mortal Causes, by Ian Rankin 1 10 Oct 09, 2016 12:56PM  
  • A Pinch of Snuff (Dalziel & Pascoe, #5)
  • Close to Home (Inspector Banks, #13)
  • The Dead Hour (Paddy Meehan, #2)
  • Dark Blood (Logan McRae, #6)
  • Last Seen Wearing (Inspector Morse, #2)
  • Cutting Edge (Charles Resnick, #3)
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
More about Ian Rankin...

Other Books in the Series

Inspector Rebus (1 - 10 of 21 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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“Now is the first day of the rest of your strife.” 0 likes
“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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