Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Inspector Rebus #21

Rather Be the Devil

Rate this book
Some cases never leave you.

For John Rebus, forty years may have passed, but the death of beautiful, promiscuous Maria Turquand still preys on his mind. Murdered in her hotel room on the night a famous rock star and his entourage were staying there, Maria's killer has never been found.

Meanwhile, the dark heart of Edinburgh remains up for grabs. A young pretender, Darryl Christie, may have staked his claim, but a vicious attack leaves him weakened and vulnerable, and an inquiry into a major money laundering scheme threatens his position. Has old-time crime boss Big Ger Cafferty really given up the ghost, or is he biding his time until Edinburgh is once more ripe for the picking?

In a tale of twisted power, deep-rooted corruption and bitter rivalries, Rather Be the Devil showcases Rankin and Rebus at their unstoppable best.

317 pages, Kindle Edition

First published November 3, 2016

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Ian Rankin

324 books5,496 followers
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 Hawthornden Fellow. He is also a past winner of the Chandler-Fulbright Award, and he received two Dagger Awards for the year's best short story and the Gold Dagger for Fiction. Ian Rankin is also the recipient of honorary degrees from the universities of Abertay, St Andrews, and Edinburgh.

A contributor to BBC2's Newsnight Review, he also presented his own TV series, Ian Rankin's Evil Thoughts, on Channel 4 in 2002. He recently received the OBE for services to literature, and opted to receive the prize in his home city of Edinburgh, where he lives with his partner and two sons.


Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
4,282 (35%)
4 stars
5,026 (41%)
3 stars
2,179 (18%)
2 stars
368 (3%)
1 star
116 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,035 reviews
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,536 reviews24.6k followers
October 3, 2016
John Rebus is a favourite of mine, and when this book became available, I snapped it up. There is a strong element of comfort for me now that we are on his 21st outing. This is one hell of a thrill ride of a novel......and it all begins with Rebus dining out with Deborah Quant at the Caledonian Hotel when he tells her of an unresolved 40 year old murder of Marie Turquand, who was strangled in one of the hotel rooms. Rebus is retired but we all know that is not going to stop him nosing around in matters that are none of his concern. DI Siobhan Clarke brings the cold case files to Rebus, and he delves into the case. He is also plagued by serious medical concerns, which he refers, with mordant humour, as Hank Marvin. Meanwhile, there is turbulence within Edinburgh's criminal fraternity, and Big Ger Cafferty can be found right in the middle of it.

Rebus meets a number of people associated with the Marie Turquand case. Then the head of a police case review, ex-cop Robert Chatham, is fished out of the Leith after talking to Rebus.. It seems there are dangerous forces out there that do not want the case opened. A police unit, headed by DS Alvin James, which bypasses local CID, is set up to look into the murder. DI Malcolm Fox finds himself back in the city working with Siobhan after a serious assault on Darryl Christie, local crime boss and entrepreneur. Christie has links with a missing man who sets up shell companies for his clients so they can squirrel away money in tax havens. Malcolm's sister, Jude, brings trouble to his doorstep which has him worried. Cafferty is taking a close interest in the assault on Christie which eventually brings Rebus and the police to his door. This is a violent and bloody trail that takes in a brutal and dangerous Ukrainian mobster, betrayal, corruption, greed, bitter rivalries and a number of twists.

As ever, there is a great sense of location in Edinburgh in the novel which I loved. This is a superbly constructed and well written book with masses of atmosphere. I liked the character development that has given way to Rebus, Clarke and Fox now getting on so well and providing support to each other. They work with each other in a remarkably productive way to get to the truth. Given that the series has run for so long, it still has the capacity to surprise, and be an utterly compelling and gripping read. It is to the author's credit that this series is still going so strong. A book which I highly recommend. Many thanks to Orion for an ARC.
Profile Image for Maureen .
1,322 reviews7,104 followers
October 30, 2016
I doubt whether Ian Rankin would like me comparing his new novel to a comfy pair of old slippers but sorry! That's exactly what I have to do. You put those slippers on, get comfy in your favourite armchair, and with feet up, the world just fades away. That's how I feel about John Rebus, I start reading and the world can take a back seat. Yes he can be grouchy, and playing by the rules doesn't figure in his vocabulary, but that's what I love about him.

Rebus is a couple of years into his retirement now, but he's not gonna let a little thing like that interfere with his investigations. In an unofficial capacity, he's working alongside former colleagues, gathering and sharing information for this latest case.

The latest novel sees him investigating a cold case from the 1970's when a young vivacious socialite was murdered in one of Edinburgh's most luxurious hotels. The hotel was full and there were many suspects at the time but no-one was ever brought to justice. Along the way this cold case becomes entwined with the more recent case of a brutal attack on Edinburgh's latest 'Mr Big', Darryl Christie, who's also suspected of money laundering. Alongside Christie, Big Ger Cafferty, old style gangster, (though now a pensioner,) still maintains a presence in the city, and still has that air of menace about him. Cafferty still believes the old ways are the best, and extracts information by means of torture, not a man to cross!

As is usual, Rebus has his own unique and humorous way of interacting with the characters, and has special relationships with the old school gangsters that help him gain information that other cops can only dream about, and primarily, it's the interaction with these characters that make Ian Rankin's novels special. The language and the humour stand out. He knows the streets of Edinburgh and he portrays the gritty, seedier side of this wonderful city like no other writer can.

This is a very complex plot and needs complete concentration, but with Rebus at the helm, concentration is pretty much guaranteed. As an avid reader of crime novels, I have to say that Rebus is probably my favourite character of them all. Another compelling read from this great author.

*Thank you to Netgalley & Orion for my ARC for which I have given a fair and honest review*
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,152 reviews2,003 followers
July 27, 2020
I find I am really enjoying retired Rebus. He just carries on as though he is still working but without any of the controls of higher management. Luckily of course he still has Siobhan and Fox to find information for him and occasionally wave a warrant card which he no longer has.

In this book Rebus is in poor health and waiting for the results of tests. Nothing however keeps his brain from working and he soon involves himself in researching a cold case which ends up linking with an ongoing one. Cafferty is also back which always sparks Rebus up.

I enjoy the Rebus novels for the great characters, the humour, and the police procedure which is always solid and smart. All these aspects are at the fore in this excellent book. A totally entertaining read.
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,690 reviews14.1k followers
February 7, 2017
For John Rebus, retirement is only a word, a minor technicality, something to get around. This something he is very good at, using whatever means necessary. Despite his health, which at present is presenting a problem, he never fails to be enticed when a past unsolved case is brought to his attention. When the criminal bosses come out to play in present day, all nets are off. He is on a trail and with the aid of his friends Clarke and Fox, he is determined to pursue and get answers, especially when it is Big Geri involved.

I agave read this series for years, a series that is slow paced, need to settle yourself in, but full of the atmosphere of Edinburgh, criminal underworld and all. Always excerpts of music are scattered throughout as Rebus is a big time music lover. The characters are so well developed and the cases always interesting. This one though had me a little confused at the beginning, really did so many of the characters have to have names starting with C? Sorted itself out the longer I read but for me it was noticeable. I love this series though, so could not rate it any lower. So John, hope to see you soon, hope you feel better and good luck staying off the cigs.

ARC from Netgalley.
Profile Image for Andrew Smith.
1,031 reviews563 followers
July 27, 2021
The title of this book is taken from a song written and performed by British singer John Martyn. Rankin is big on music and he populates his books with references to songs and song lyrics, perhaps to provide further insight into the personality (and age) of his characters. On this occasion, the use of this particular line is rather ambiguous given there are a quite few stand-out candidates for the ‘devil’ tag. It’s a complex tale of power and greed, albeit with the author’s usual measure of bone dry humour. Yes, Rebus is back, along with a rich cast of characters drawn from earlier books. Couldn’t be better; pour yourself a dram, pull up a chair and disappear once more into Edinburgh’s underbelly.

As the book begins we learn that John Rebus has retired from the force and is now suffering the consequences of a lifetime on the ciggies. He’s coughing up a storm and undergoing tests as a result of a shadow having being found on his lung. He’s also cut down on the booze. None of this has done wonders for his temperament, but he’s managed to talk friend and ex-colleague Siobhan Clarke into sneaking him the file on a cold case he’s retained an interest in. In 1978 an attractive socialite was murdered at the prestigious Caledonian Hotel, as she waited in her room for her lover. At that time musician Bruce Collier and his entourage were staying in adjacent rooms. Were they involved in any way? Well, the murder was never pinned on anyone and now Rebus fancies his chances of dusting off old records (excuse the pun) to work out whodunnit.

In this book the whole gang is here. Malcolm Fox, who started life in a separate series of books, has been transferred to the Scottish Crime Campus at Gartcosh, near Glasgow. He resents the daily commute but the move represents a significant step forward in his career. The fact he was was selected for this move irks the ambitious Siobhan and it’s put a temporary halt to their bourgeoning friendship. To rub salt in the wound, Fox is asked to spend some time back in Edinburgh where he’s to look into the possibility of a link between the murder of a nightclub bouncer and suspected money laundering activity involving a young crime boss – a certain Darryl Christie, who’ll be familiar to readers of the Rebus stories. And who’s in charge of the murder case? Siobhan Clarke, of course.

By this time, I’m casting my mind around to think who else Rankin is going to throw into the pot. Ah, that’ll be Gerald Cafferty, or ‘Big Ger’ as he’s known by Edinburgh police and criminals alike. Truth to tell, Big Ger is such an engaging wrongdoer that I’m always disappointed when he doesn’t turn up in these books. Yes, he has little time for moral principles and can be exceedingly violent but he makes up for this by being very quick with the lip. Whenever he’s on the page a smile is never far from my face.

Toss a missing banker into the equation and suffice to say it all gets very complicated from here. I had to concentrate hard to keep track of the various threads and, in fact, I eventually gave up on this endeavour and just savoured the richness of the prose and the brilliant, and often hilarious, interchanges between the various characters. It’s sad to see Rebus getting old and lacking the physical power of his early days, but at the same time it’s fascinating to see how he deals with this. He’s a brilliant fictional character, certainly amongst the finest I’ve come across. And in Malcolm Fox the author has developed an interesting foil for his main man. They’re not exactly firm friends (their mutual history dictates this) but they do share a smidgen of camaraderie. Enough of Fox’s back-story is now known for regular readers to understand what’s made him the man he is and he definitely adds some flavour of his own to this tale. And Siobhan Clarke is starting to come out of the huge shadow cast by Rebus to show us that she’s got a keen brain and a sharp tongue. I just wish that Rankin would fill in a few more blanks for her as, unlike Fox, little is known about her life outside of the job.

All in all, what we have here is another first rate crime story from Rankin replete with a cast of known and well loved characters doing what they do best. There’s a bit of social commentary thrown in for good measure – that’s the author’s way – and the closing scenes are exciting enough to blow away any cobwebs that may have developed from getting tied up in the innumerable plot lines. As a final bonus, there’s a little surprise at the end that’s certainly worth waiting for. This book can certainly be read as a stand alone crime fiction thriller but as this is the 21st book in this series, which features a veritable troop of returning friends and foes, I'd recommend readers work their way towards this one - all the better to appreciate the subtle interactions between characters to the full.

Time for another dram and a dig around in the loft for my dog-eared copy of the first Rebus book, me thinks. I might just start the series all over again.
Profile Image for Labijose.
939 reviews397 followers
September 18, 2020
Nada que reprocharle a la penúltima entrega de mi querido Rebus. Oficialmente jubilado, y pagando las consecuencias de una vida llena de cigarrillos. Me encanta cuando la trama se centra principalmente en mi querida Edimburgo, y también me encanta cuando aparecen todos los personajes principales de sus anteriores novelas, aunque sigo pensando que me gustaba más el Fox de asuntos internos que el actual. Me encantan esos diálogos, sobre todo en su versión original (he leído ambas versiones, la inglesa y la española, y no hay color). En esta novela, sin embargo, quizás haya un exceso de tramas principales y secundarias, debido, pienso, a que tenemos a toda la cuadrilla presente. Ello quizás me haya hecho perder un poquito la atención en algunos capítulos. Y sí, en definitiva, no consideraría a “Rather be the devil” entre sus mejores entregas. Lo cual no le quita ningún mérito.

A la espera de leer la que, parece, su última entrega (“In a house of lies”). Que, además, me ha sido regalada directamente desde allí por una persona que conocí en estos gratos ambientes de GR.

Eso es lo bueno que tiene la literatura (con o sin mayúsculas): que nos une a los amantes de pasar página tras página (ya sea física o electrónica) en espera de encontrar relatos como el presente. Siempre a la búsqueda de esa lectura que no te deje indiferente. Y, de ello, autores como Mr Rankin tienen gran parte de culpa. Afortunadamente.
Profile Image for James Thane.
Author 8 books6,913 followers
July 24, 2018
Edinburg detective John Rebus is officially retired and in the middle of a health scare. He's quit smoking and cut back on his drinking, but then a forty-year-old murder that was never solved captures his attention and he's off to the races again, even if he's not running quite as fast as he used to.

The victim was a beautiful married woman named Maria Turquand who had a date to meet her lover in a luxurious hotel. She was found strangled to death, but most of the obvious suspects had iron-clad alibis. Adding to the confusion was the fact that a famous rock star was staying at the hotel that day, and the place was a circus. In the end, there were too many possible suspects and too little evidence, and the case was never solved.

Rebus is recounting the mystery to his new lover over dinner one night in the restaurant of the hotel where the murder happened. This piques his curiosity and he starts digging into the old files on his own. No sooner does he do so, than someone close to the original crime is killed. Someone, it appears, would not like to see Maria's killer found.

At the same time Rebus begins digging into the Turquand case, an up and coming mobster named Darryl Christie is badly beaten outside his home. The case falls to Rebus's former understudy, Siobahn Clarke, and it appears that Rebus's old nemesis Big Ger Cafferty might have been involved. Rebus thus worms his was into Siobahn's investigation and is soon back on the job, albeit without a badge.

Finally, Rebus's adversary-turned grudging friend, Malcolm Fox, has received a big promotion and is working financial crimes. He's assigned to a money laundering investigation that appears to involve the aforementioned Darryl Christie. Almost immediately, his case is tied into Clarke's, and Rebus invites himself into that investigation as well.

The result is a very intricate but intriguing plot in which Rebus, Clarke and Fox combine forces in an effort to chase down any number of bad guys and resolve a number of complicated crimes. It's great fun watching them work together and the interaction among the three and their various targets is the highlight of the book. Rebus may be retired, but he still just keeps getting better and better.
Profile Image for Labijose.
939 reviews397 followers
December 19, 2020
Nada que reprocharle a la penúltima entrega de mi querido Rebus. Oficialmente jubilado, y pagando las consecuencias de una vida llena de cigarrillos. Me encanta cuando la trama se centra principalmente en mi querida Edimburgo, y también me encanta cuando aparecen todos los personajes principales de sus anteriores novelas, aunque sigo pensando que me gustaba más el Fox de asuntos internos que el actual. Me encantan esos diálogos, sobre todo en su versión original (he leído ambas versiones, la inglesa y la española, y no hay color). En esta novela, sin embargo, quizás haya un exceso de tramas principales y secundarias, debido, pienso, a que tenemos a toda la cuadrilla presente. Ello quizás me haya hecho perder un poquito la atención en algunos capítulos. Y sí, en definitiva, no consideraría a “Rather be the devil” entre sus mejores entregas. Lo cual no le quita ningún mérito.

A la espera de leer la que, parece, su última entrega (“In a house of lies”). Que, además, me ha sido regalada directamente desde allí por una persona que conocí en estos gratos ambientes de GR.

Eso es lo bueno que tiene la literatura (con o sin mayúsculas): que nos une a los amantes de pasar página tras página (ya sea física o electrónica) en espera de encontrar relatos como el presente. Siempre a la búsqueda de esa lectura que no te deje indiferente. Y, de ello, autores como Mr Rankin tienen gran parte de culpa. Afortunadamente.
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,315 reviews4,841 followers
November 24, 2021

In this 21st book in the 'Inspector Rebus' series, the detective is retired, but still manages to investigate cases. The book can be read as a standalone, but knowledge of the characters is advantageous.


Retired Scottish detective John Rebus is in his sixties, suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and a bit overweight.

Rebus's girlfriend, police pathologist Deborah Quant, is encouraging the detective to give up cigarettes and cut down on beer, and Rebus is trying.....for health reasons.

Rebus and Quant are dining at Edinburgh's iconic Caledonian Hotel one evening when the detective recalls an unsolved crime that occurred in the hotel 40 years ago, in 1978.

A socialite named Maria Turquand was strangled in her room, and - despite numerous possible suspects - no one was arrested for the crime. Persons of interest included Maria's banker husband; Maria's playboy lover; and members of a rock band staying in the hotel, several of whom had slept with Maria.

Rebus decides to re-investigate the Turquand murder, and wheedles the case files out of his long-time associate, DI Siobhan Clarke.

From the files, Rebus learns that detective Robert Chatham, who's now retired, looked into the Turquand cold case a few years ago.

Rebus contacts Chatham, and the two pensioners discuss the killing over breakfast in a café. Soon afterwards, Chatham's dead body is pulled from the River Forth.

With a fellow officer drowned in suspicious circumstances, Edinburgh's police squad is all over Chatham's death.

At the same time, the police squad is working on a couple of other cases. A rising young criminal named Darryl Christie, who owns nightclubs and betting shops, has been badly beaten; and a wealthy bank heir called Anthony Brough, who allegedly launders dirty money through Christie's enterprises, has gone missing.

The money laundering activities attract the attention of investigators at the Serious Crime Campus at Gartcosh, where DI Malcolm Fox - a former associate of Rebus and Clarke - now works.

Fox is quickly sent to 'help' the Edinburgh police, with instructions to report back everything he hears.

People who come to the attention of the police include Craw Shand - a crook who likes to confess to crimes he didn't commit; Big Ger Cafferty - a criminal kingpin, who's being squeezed out by younger bosses; Aleksander Glushenko - a Ukrainian mobster; gang members who do Christie's dirty work; and more.

Fox and Clarke work on the cases in their official capacity, and Rebus - who can't mind his own business - sticks his oar in as well. There are numerous complications before the investigations come together is an overly complex - but satisfying - fashion.

You can find my reviews at: https://reviewsbybarbsaffer.blogspot....
Profile Image for [ J o ].
1,934 reviews427 followers
June 22, 2018
John Rebus is a copper through and through, and he most certainly cannot let go. Despite retirement and severe health problems, he still capers about like the best of them and he certainly can't stop himself going where he definitely shouldn't...

Ian Rankin and his creation John Rebus never disappoint. Not surprising, the length of time they have both been doing their respective jobs.

The thing that makes Rebus so different to-and better than-other detective, murder-mystery or crime thrillers is that Rebus actually works it all out, whereas PC Plod usually just stumbles upon the culprit at just the right moment, or somehow finds the bloody hammer poking out of the sewer cap. It's always so easy for them. For Rebus, it's hard and it's thought through and it's worked out and it's fantastic.

Rather Be the Devil circulates round a 40-year-old cold case and a beating-up of Edinburgh's new crime overlord. We delve back in to the gritty streets of the Scottish capital and are taken on a ride through the streets that Rebus (and Rankin) know so well.

It is comforting to those who know and love Rebus and a really good introduction to those who don't. He's still the same haggard man with a broken life, but he is the best at his job: or he would be, if it were still his job. He has that maverick-style he's always had, not necessarily sticking to the rules: but if those you're trying to catch don't stick to the rules, how can you catch them?

Alongside Rebus are Siobhan Clarke and Malcolm Fox again, and they add the slight touch of straight-lace and wile that Rebus lacks. They file down his sharp edges and make the whole thing completely palatable. It's a superbly quick read but that doesn't take away any of the enjoyment. You may think you need to take your time to savour every moment, but really you need to hold on tight.
Profile Image for John Martin.
Author 25 books176 followers
December 8, 2016
I never miss a Rebus book. I think he's become even more interesting in retirement. He's a bit like a dog with a bone. I marvel at the way Ian rankin builds character and uses POV. The story is gritty but there is lots of light to go with the dark.
Profile Image for Rob.
511 reviews103 followers
December 19, 2020
Book 21 in the Rebus series published 2016.

An easy 4**** stars.

John Rebus might be getting a bit long in the tooth and his health might be in decline and he is no longer on the force but he still can’t help getting involved.

There are five principle characters Rebus, Siobhan Clarke and Malcolm Fox all on the side of law and order the other two are Big Ger Cafferty and Darryl Christie who are most definitely not on the side of law and order. As different as they all are they all have one thing in common ‘troubles’.
Although Rebus is now retire from the force there are some cases that he just can’t let go. One of these cases was the case of Maria Turquand a high society socialite with questionable moral standards, she liked to sleep around. When Maria’s dead body was found in one of Edinburgh’s most prestigious hotels some years back the case was given to John Rebus. Although there were a few good suspects the case was never solved. Now several years’ later new information has come to light and Rebus takes it upon himself to get involved in the investigation. But not everyone is enamoured with his involvement.
As Rebus digs into this case it becomes obvious that all is not well in the criminal underbelly of Edinburgh. Rebus now has a lot more to think about than just Maria Turquand’s cold case.

Now that John Rebus is retired and unfettered from the constraints of his superiors these books just get better.

Profile Image for Liz Barnsley.
3,402 reviews987 followers
October 9, 2016
I was a late arrival to the novels of Ian Rankin, it is probably only the last few years I've been reading them avidly, despite the longevity of the series, but hey I'm all caught up now and being late to the party is better than never arriving at all.

The thing with the Rebus series and the writing of Ian Rankin is that it is totally insidious in its creativity - you kind of get hooked without realising you ARE hooked until the next book comes along and you devour it with all the ferocity of a true believer. Well ok maybe thats just me...

Anyway astonishingly this is Rebus 21 and whilst he's not as young as he used to be he is just as tenacious and entirely adorable (ok maybe adorable is not QUITE the right word but its what I've got at the moment) I'm also rather fond and growing fonder of Malcolm Fox - so realistically this novel was always going to be one I was likely to enjoy.

And enjoy it I did - I see no need to go into huge depth on the story, thats what the reading of it is for, but suffice to say the authors trademark dark and devious plotting is out in full force, the characters live and breathe (I'm not sure how bad it is that I often end up feeling rather sympathetic towards the "bad" guys ) and Rebus despite having some fairly troubling personal distractions and not being officially anything, still goes after his man. Or woman. Or any poor soul doing their due diligence when trying to get away with murder.

Entirely brilliant writing, these will endure because they are kind of timeless even as they keep up with the times. Each one is a fully immersive experience and rather than lessening in impact or quality they just grow in both those things.

I'll be sorry when Rebus inevitably has to head for the hills, but the world Ian Rankin has created here, in setting, authenticity and background won't be going anywhere anytime soon, there are I'm sure a lot more stories to tell. And Rebus, the old dog, has quite a lot of life in him yet I'd say...

Highly Recommended.

From first book to last.

Profile Image for Michael Robotham.
Author 55 books5,547 followers
September 11, 2018
I loved the personnel and philosophical elements of this story with Rebus pondering the nature of life, death and growing old. The plot I found convoluted with too many characters and strands to follow. Saying that, Ian Rankin is always readable.
Profile Image for Bettie.
9,988 reviews15 followers
February 23, 2017
Opening: Rebus placed his knife and fork on the empty plate, then leaned back in his chair, studying the other diners in the restaurant.
'Somebody was murdered here, you know,' he announced.

A resurgent Big Ger Cafferty means there is sure to be a further book...

3* Knots and Crosses (Inspector Rebus, #1)
3* Hide and Seek (Inspector Rebus, #2)
4* Tooth and Nail (Inspector Rebus, #3)
3* Strip Jack (Inspector Rebus, #4)
3* The Black Book (Inspector Rebus, #5)
3* Mortal Causes (Inspector Rebus, #6)
3* Let It Bleed (Inspector Rebus, #7)
3* Black and Blue (Inspector Rebus, #8)
3* The Hanging Garden (Inspector Rebus, #9)
3* Dead Souls (Inspector Rebus, #10)
2* Death Is Not the End (Inspector Rebus, #10.5)
3* Set in Darkness (Inspector Rebus, #11)
4* The Falls (Inspector Rebus, #12)
4* Resurrection Men (Inspector Rebus, #13)
4* A Question of Blood (Inspector Rebus, #14)
4* Fleshmarket Close (Inspector Rebus, #15)
4* The Naming of the Dead (Inspector Rebus, #16)
4* Exit Music (Inspector Rebus, #17)
5* Standing in Another Man's Grave (Inspector Rebus, #18)
4* Saints of the Shadow Bible (Inspector Rebus, #19)
4* Even Dogs in the Wild (Inspector Rebus, #20)
3* Rather Be The Devil (Inspector Rebus, #21)

3* In the Nick of Time: John Rebus vs. Roy Grace
4* A Good Hanging: Short Stories
2* Beggars Banquet
Profile Image for Carol -  Reading Writing and Riesling.
1,128 reviews115 followers
January 22, 2017
Can this author get any better??? Fabulous read!!

My View:

Its Not You – It’s Me ? :)

Is it me or does anyone else think that there has been a subtle shift/metamorphosis in writing style in Ian Rankin’s Rebus series? I have been with this writer since the start - Knots and Crosses and whilst I have enjoyed all the books in this series since about the time of Exit Music I have not only enjoyed but I have become fully engaged in the narrative and the life of Rebus, Siobhan and even Big Ger. Has “retirement” allowed Rebus to soften a little, to perhaps become more personable, more interesting, more reflective, more relatable? I don’t know- what do you think? Maybe it’s not you Rebus maybe it’s me?

Regardless of whether you agree with me or not you will find this read every bit as engaging as his very first book; the characters just as flawed and likable (mostly) and the locations and settings just as visual and real. This is another fabulous read from the talented Ian Rankin!
Profile Image for Lewis Weinstein.
Author 9 books491 followers
June 21, 2017
I have read and enjoyed many of the Rebus books. Not this one. For whatever reason, I couldn't follow the story. Many characters. Inadequate transitions. Confusing plot. Actually no plot, up to the point I stopped reading (about 125 pages).
Profile Image for Susan.
1,062 reviews200 followers
January 7, 2017
There can't be a better setting for an intelligent mystery than Edinburgh and when you toss in John Rebus, you've got a book you simply can't put down. It doesn't matter that Rebus is retired because there's not a place he can't get into, retired or not. Throw in Malcom Fox reassigned to Gartcosh but in the thick of this investigation and you've got a book to sink your teeth into.

This one starts with Rebus looking into a cold case, the murder of Maria Turquand 40 years ago. This is the most discordant note in the book to me. It wasn't really that interesting and certainly didn't really tie up to the main story. Although Rebus eventually solves it, it is unsatisfactory and, I thought, unnecessary. My five star rating came down to four stars because of its inclusion.

The real story is the interaction of Big Ger Cafferty and one of his former disciples, Darryl Christie. Christie has left Cafferty's employ but still emulates him including buying a house that looks like his. Christie runs quite an empire of betting shops, pubs and nightclubs. Their interplay involves a missing $10 million, a nutsy Ukrainian, a money laundering scheme involving a principal's relative, a gym owner, and various characters that seem unique to Edinburgh. The tour of Edinburgh is of parts never seen by tourists.

Always literate, full of music references (almost none of which I got but did not diminish my enjoyment) and a convoluted plot keeps Rebus refreshing and enjoyable. I am glad his retirement doesn't mean we don't keep in touch. If possible I find him even more endearing and wily. This is a good book that I highly recommend.

Thanks to Net Galley for providing me a copy in exchange for a fair review.
Profile Image for Sandy.
873 reviews214 followers
November 6, 2016
I've been reading this series since 1987 (I know what you're thinking....odd choice for a 5 year old ; -) & can't imagine not getting my annual shot of Rebus. The characters have become living, breathing people & it's like catching up on the news with old friends.

This one finds Rebus retired & facing a health scare. Mind you, the fact he no longer gets a pay cheque doesn't stop him from showing up for work. The way he sees it, as long as Big Ger McCafferty is walking around, it's his job to be the hard man's shadow. The plot weaves together a famous cold case with present day power struggles among Edinburgh's crime bosses. Malcolm Fox & Siobhan Clarke join forces to unravel a snarly mess of assault, murder, money laundering & office politics. And whether they like it or not, Rebus is along for the ride & frequently takes the wheel.

If you haven't yet shared a pint with Rebus, do yourself a favour & start at the beginning (Knots and Crosses). Every book builds the history of the characters & their relationships, making each instalment all the more rewarding. The quality & consistency is such a rarity in a business always looking for the next big shiny star. And while this may not be the best of the bunch (that would be 2013's Saints of the Shadow Bible IMHO), it is the smart, entertaining read we've come to expect..
Profile Image for Okoń w sieci.
187 reviews1,226 followers
May 20, 2022
Recenzja na YouTube: https://youtu.be/p97aQE1OjEA


Sporo się zmieniło od pierwszego tomu. „Wszyscy diabli” ma w sobie więcej akcji, więcej rebusów, ale wciąż ogrom dialogów. Jestem w stanie uwierzyć, że tacy bohaterowie istnieją naprawdę i takie zbrodnie dzieją się obok nas. Rankin nie sięga po tanie banały i nie próbuje czytelnika wprawiać w osłupienie. Nie potrzebuje nawet trupa, żeby prowadzić intrygujące śledztwo. Tu się liczy prawdziwa, detektywistyczna robota. Zamiast pif-paf po prostu przesłuchania. Rankin i Rebus ładnie się razem starzeją.
Profile Image for Leah.
1,351 reviews203 followers
April 3, 2017
Hail! Hail! The gang's all here!

While Rebus is having dinner with his long-term girlfriend, forensic pathologist Deborah Quant, in the Caledonian Hotel, he tells her of a murder that took place there years ago, when a famous rock star and his entourage were staying in the hotel – a woman who, it appeared, was probably murdered by her lover, except that the lover had an alibi. The murder was never solved and, as he tells the story, Rebus's interest in it revives. Time for a little amateur sleuthing! Meantime, gangster Darryl Christie has been beaten up and Siobhan is on the case. The obvious suspect is Big Ger Cafferty, the older gangster whom Darryl has pushed aside, but Cafferty hints to Rebus that there's a Russian connection. (No, fear not, Comrade Trump isn't in it!) Malcolm Fox has been moved to the Specialist Crime Division in Gartcosh. They are quietly looking into some of Darryl's business interests and reckon the investigation into his beating will be a good opportunity to nose around his affairs, so Malcolm is sent back through to Edinburgh to liaise with Siobhan. And so the scene is set for another full-cast outing, all the detectives and gangsters gathered together one more time.

Rebus is up there at the top of my list of favourite detectives, and Ian Rankin can really do no wrong in my eyes. As always, the plotting is great, with the various strands crossing and interconnecting. The old murder story is a traditional whodunit, where alibis and motives are key, while the gangster story allows for plenty of action and a good, believable thriller ending. There's lots of room for the regulars to interact with each other, which is always one of the major joys of the books – tension between Siobhan and Malcolm because she's jealous of his move to Gartcosh, concern over Rebus's health as he undergoes some tests, and Rebus and Big Ger continuing their roles as the elder statesmen of policing and crime, running rings around the young'uns as usual.

However, in truth, I couldn't help but notice that there are a good deal of similarities to the last book. The rivalry among Darryl, Big Ger and their Glasgow counterpart, Joe Stark, has been rumbling through a few books now, and shows no signs of coming to a conclusion. In retirement, it's harder to create reasons for Rebus to be involved, and the excuse of Big Ger only being willing to deal with him is becoming a little worn. I hate to say it because I love the old man so much, but I think it's time to let Rebus go and allow Siobhan and Malcolm to take over as the lead characters. Either that, or Rankin should break his own rule and take us back in time to revisit Rebus as a younger man, when he was still on the force. That's not to suggest I didn't enjoy this one – I did, thoroughly, and I'm sure other Rebus fans will too. But this and the last one have felt like encores, given as a treat to those who've watched the whole show and want a little bit more. And I think it would be better if Rebus left the stage while the audience is still applauding.

I listened to the Audible audiobook version of this, narrated by James Macpherson whom some of you will remember as Chief Inspector Michael Jardine in the long-running STV series, Taggart. I'd listened to him narrate Rebus before, in the short story collection The Beat Goes On, so knew he'd be good. But actually he's even better in this one – the length allows him to create different personalities for all the characters, and his range of Scottish accents and voices is fabulous. From posh Morningside gents to wee Glesca nyaffs, he can do them all brilliantly! He has a real understanding of the recurring characters, so his interpretation never jars. And his timing for the humour is perfect – he often made me laugh out loud. I heartily recommend his readings to any Rebus fans out there – I can't imagine a better narrator for them, and fully intend to back track and listen to his readings of some of the older books.

For anyone coming new to the series, I'd definitely recommend starting much further back – this one depends to a large extent on familiarity with all the relationships amongst the regulars. But for existing Rebus fans, another thoroughly enjoyable book. Rankin writing and Macpherson narrating are a dream team – pure pleasure! Highly recommended.

Profile Image for Ellen.
938 reviews121 followers
October 14, 2018
Rather Be the Devil (Inspector Rebus, #21) by Ian Rankin.

It's been so comfortable getting to spend time with my old friend Rebus. This story was no exception to that rule. This time we find rebus dealing with some health issues, some serious (?) health issues. The smoking and drinking is being dealt with accordingly. This time his maladies can no longer be swept under the rug.
Rebus is no longer a main stay at the precinct. Retirement isn't coming easy to this long time detective. Detecting is in his blood and has been for a long time. The main topic on Rebus's mind is a cold case. A case from years ago that went unsolved. It's been gnawing at him all this time and he's determined to set it at rest.

Am I attached to rebus? Am I addicted to this series? Do I enjoy every word on every page? The answer is a resounding YES, YES. YES! This story had everything and everyone including Rebus's longtime nemesis Big Ger Cafferty. Siobhan Clarke and Malcolm fox are evolving as a working team and play an important part in Rebus's posse.
Retirement! What's that??? The best is yet to be for Rebus.
Profile Image for Amanda Patterson.
896 reviews267 followers
April 6, 2017
I feel as if I've known John Rebus forever, and I suppose I have. I've read all 21 books in the series to date, and I'll read any more Ian Rankin writes.

Rebus has a steady girlfriend, has stopped smoking, and drinking (mostly), and he is supposed to be retired. When Darryl Christie, Edinburgh's crime boss, is attacked, the police think Rebus's old foe Big Ger Cafferty might be involved.

Rebus is also trying to solve an old murder. With time on his hands, the death of the beautiful, promiscuous Maria Turquand 40 years earlier still preys on his mind. Are the two cases linked?

Rebus helps as Siobhan Clarke and Malcolm Fox piece together what's going on. Edinburgh plays her part as the setting as beautifully as ever.
Profile Image for Ellie.
1,456 reviews366 followers
February 4, 2017
John Rebus is back, getting older and ill with a "suspicious shadow" on his lung but still clever in his somewhat shady way. Retiring from the force has hardly slowed down his investigations, at least as seen in this story. With few scruples, he searches for old murderers as well as new ones. Rather Be the Devil is a first rate mystery that is full of twists and turns and mixes the old murder (of a beautiful, promiscuous woman) with some new ones. All the victims, though, are criminals and no one we're likely to grieve much over. There is an heiress who has been driven insane by life and many money laundering types who all seem out to get each other. Even though I'm not familiar with the series (and I will be soon), I loved the complicated story as well as the characters. We end the dark parts of Edinburgh with Rebus to track down the killers, although there is little satisfaction in justice in the book.

All the characters are terrifically interesting, especially Siobhan Clarke and Malcolm Fox (himself the star of a Rankin series) are well-drawn and interesting. The book completely drew me in. I loved Rebus, beaten a bit by life but not defeated. I hope there is another book to come.

I am grateful to NetGalley, Little, Brown, and Ian Rankin for providing me with a copy of this excellent mystery.
Profile Image for Overbooked  ✎.
1,465 reviews
March 30, 2017
Rebus is a retired Scottish detective, unwell and bored, he takes an interest in an Edinburgh cold case. His investigation of a well-known woman found murdered in a hotel room is muddled by too many story lines and a distracting myriad of characters. Due to the popularity of the series, I was hoping for something better. This is my first Ian Rankin’s mystery and I’m not sure there’ll be another one.
2.5 stars.
Profile Image for Bill.
890 reviews161 followers
November 20, 2016
Ian Rankin's marvellous creation John Rebus returns in a well plotted story, with believable characters & more Scottish gallows humour. This time an unsolved murder case from the past concerns Rebus & he's also worried about Hank Marvin.......older readers (like myself) will get this reference when they read the book, but no spoilers here. It's funny how the last few pages of a book can turn a four star review into a five star one.
Profile Image for Kathy Davie.
4,652 reviews702 followers
March 25, 2017
Twenty-first in the Inspector Rebus detective mystery series and revolving around a supposedly retired Rebus in Edinburgh, Scotland.

My Take
That Rebus is twisting his way through Rather Be the Devil. Not a cop anymore, he still manages to worm his way in and through, dealing with the power and corruption of both police and criminals. Spilling and keeping secrets, taking the piss out of everyone, and going up against rival criminals.

There's a detachment in this, partly due to the third-person point-of-view that mostly focuses on the externals of the various characters in their dialogue and actions. Not a lot on the internal thoughts.

There are lots of inconsistencies that I ignored, simply because I do like Rebus so much. I mean, really, how many cops would let Rebus get away with so much? But when it comes to shooting someone who is about to take your head off and then putting the person defending themselves in jail for it??? No. I don't get that. Of course, I don't get any justice system that holds you to blame for shooting someone who is breaking into your house. So what do I know…?

It is an interesting reminder of the different crime boss styles: the more modern and smooth Darryl Christie versus the thug mentality of Ger Cafferty and Joe Stark. And the even more thuggish Aleksander. Speaking of styles, it's a hoist with your own petard situation for Fox when he discovers his sister's perfidy and the soup it lands him in. For someone of such brutal honesty — who led the internal affairs department, no less, it must be mind-wrenching to find oneself on the "wrong" side.

Keeping up with that honesty bit, coppers never had to worry about Twitter and YouTube, and it's reading stories like this that make you so aware of the need for writers to keep up-to-date with technology. Poirot never encountered Twitter!

Damn, it's not fair. I want to know more about that comment Fox makes about Christie's finances. And Malcolm needs to stop enabling his sister.

As usual, I enjoyed this, although the pacing was a bit slow and there were those inconsistencies.

The Story
As he settles into an uneasy retirement, Rebus has given up his favorite vices — but there's just one habit he can't shake: he can't let go of an unsolved case. It's the only pastime he has left, and up until now, it's the only one that wasn't threatening to kill him. But when Rebus starts reexamining the facts behind the long-ago murder of a glamorous woman at a luxurious hotel — on the same night a famous rock star and his entourage were also staying there — the past comes roaring back to life with a vengeance.

And as soon as Rebus starts asking questions about the long forgotten crime, a fresh body materializes, and his inquiries reunite him with his old pals — Siobhan Clarke and Malcolm Fox — who are attempting to uncover the financial chicanery behind the savage beating of an upstart gangster, a crime that suggests the notorious old school crime boss Big Ger Cafferty has taken to retirement as poorly as Rebus himself.

The Characters
John Rebus used to be a detective inspector and has been diagnosed with COPD. It's been seven days since he's had a cigarette. Brillo is his dog. He's dating Professor Deborah Quant, a pathologist for the Edinburgh police. Sammy is his married daughter with her own child.

Edinburgh, a.k.a., Division Six
Detective Inspector (DI) Siobhan Clarke had been Rebus' partner back in the day. Based at Gayfield Square police station, she now works with Detective Constables (DCs) Christine Esson and Ronnie Ogilvie of the sparse mustache. Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) James Page is their boss. Tess is a friend of Siobhan's who works in the control room at Bilston Glen. Haj Atwal is the crime scene manager.

Garctosh is…
…the Scottish Crime Campus to which DI Malcolm Fox has been promoted from Professional Standards. The campus includes Specialist Crime; Forensic Science; the Procurator Fiscal's office (the Depute who shows up is Shona MacBryershe rates the better biscuits); Organised Crime and Counter-Terrorism is led by Assistant Chief Constable (ACC) Ben McManus; Criminal Investigation is led by ACC Jennifer Lyon, Fox's boss; and, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC)'s Sheila Graham will work with Fox on this case.

Seems harsh that Siobhan dumped Fox after he got his promotion.

Major Investigation Teams (MIT) are…
…from Garctosh. ACC Lyon has sent Detective Superintendent (DS) Alvin James to take over along with his team: the overflowing DS Sean Glancey, the whispering DS Wallace Sharpe, and DC Anne Briggs and DC Mark Oldfield who have their own private code.

Police Scotland seems to be similar to a national law enforcement agency in that it sends in specialized squads for high-profile inquiries. Alan McFarlane heads up Economic Crime Command at the National Crime Agency in London. Eddie Trantor had been in charge of SCRU back in the day. DI Robert "Rab" Chatham was the last cop who looked at the Turquand file. Retired, Chatham is a doorman (a.k.a., bouncer) working for Kenny Arnott, who runs a company supplying doormen to pubs and clubs as well as managing boxers at Kenny's Gym. Donny Applecross is his current cage fighter. Anna is Kenny's latest girlfriend. Liz Dolan is Chatham's significant other.

Morris Gerald "Big Ger" Cafferty used to run Edinburgh. He and Rebus have a long, adversarial "friendship". Crawfurd Leach is Big Ger's solicitor.

Darryl Christie is the gangster who now runs Edinburgh, from bookmakers to bars to drugs to SLPs to ??? Gail McKie is his mother; Cal and Joseph are his younger brothers. Hugh Harold "Harry" Hodges is his driver and assistant who keeps an eye on the Devil's Dram, a nightclub. Diamond Joe's I and II and Klondyke Alley are betting shops. Daniel "Dandy" Reynolds and Roddy Cape are friends of the younger brothers.

Joe Stark is an old crime boss in Glasgow who is allied with Christie. His closest friends/associates include Walter Grieve and Len Parker. William Crawford "Craw" Shand is a stinky nutter with a record who likes to confess to crimes. Eddie Bates is a small time drug dealer. Alan Tranter is Bates' solicitor.

Cold Case: October 1978
Maria Turquand, née Frazer, was strangled in her hotel bedroom at the Caley. John Turquand, a banker, had been her workaholic husband. His bank, Brough's headed by Sir Magnus Brough, catered to old money. Peter Attwood, a playboy wheeler-dealer, had been Maria's lover at the time. Now he's married to Jessica.

Anthony and Francesca Brough were Sir Magnus' grandchildren; their parents, Jimmy and Lisanne Bentley Brough, had died. Julian Greene had been Anthony's best friend and dating Francesca until he drowned in Grand Cayman. Alison Warbody is now Francesca's carer. Brough Investment Group and Brough Consulting are Anthony's companies. Molly Sewell is Brough's assistant. Aleksander Glushenko, a.k.a., Anton Nazarchuk, a Ukrainian, is with the Russian mafia and a client.

Bruce Collier and his band, Blacksmith, had been playing a gig at Usher Hall and staying at the Caley. Dougie Vaughan is a local musician who had been a friend of Collier's and one of Maria's ex-lovers. Vince Brady had been Bruce's embezzling band manager.

Maxine Dromgoole is an author who wrote The Ends of Justice: Scotland's Greatest Unsolved Crimes; she's also Chatham's lover. Laura Smith is a crime correspondent for the Scotsman. Barry is a punter. Denise is a barmaid. Wilbur Bennett was the reporter with the paper in the Grand Cayman at the time of the drowning. Joseph Beddoes owns a hardware store.

Mitch, Fox's dad, died in Even Dogs in the Wild , 20. Jude is his ne'er-do-well sister.

The Cover and Title
The cover is a drizzly, misty day in front of a rich man's house, a fence lined with shrubbery, stone pillars holding a pair of wrought iron gates, ajar, a cobblestone drive inviting you to slip inside. The author's name and title are on block banners of a light cocoa; the author's name in black with the title below it in white.

The title could be a sly reference to Big Ger, who'd Rather Be the Devil Rebus knows.
Profile Image for Rob Twinem.
820 reviews35 followers
October 22, 2016
There's life in the old Rebus yet! For an avid crime reader one of the greatest fictional characters to have emerged in almost 30 years is undoubtedly John Rebus. In so many ways he is the archetypal detective. He plays the game of cops and robbers under his rules and is not adverse to a little underhand dealing if it means a successful outcome to the criminal case.  A divorced loner he has always lived a solitary existence at his flat in Arden Street Marchmont,  surrounded by his memories and a vast LP collection (no modern cd's here) overpopulated by Bob Dylan, Jethro Tull, John Martyn and Van Morrison....to name but a few. Since the publication of Knots and Crosses in 1987 the personification and emergence of John Rebus as a "reality" rather than a writers creation has become blurred and for most Rankin fans he is a living breathing legend.
Rather be the Devil sees a retired JR doing what he does best, refusing to give into the inevitable pull of retirement, having been assigned to a cold case; the murder of Maria Turquand some 40 years previously. All the familiar characters are there; old time crime boss Big Ger Cafferty and the attractive career driven DI Siobhan Clarke. She has never doubted the great analytical and solving ability of our hero but has grave misgivings over his methodology, manners and approach to bringing a killer to justice. Clarke meantime is involved in solving a vicious attack on a young crime pretender Darryl Christie who appears to be at the heart of a money laundering scheme....soon to come to the attention of Cafferty.
It is however the characters, language and humour of modern day Edinburgh that is the real winner rather than the plot and storyline, from the past and present, which at times is a little confusing. There is also an inevitability and concern about the fate of John Rebus and the questioning of Rankin's writing in an attempt to discern how our great detective might finally make an exit...."He'd had a coughing fit in the toilet five minutes back, hawking gobbets into the sink then running the tap, rinsing away the evidence before dabbing sweat from his brow while thinking that next time maybe he'd remember to bring his inhaler. His face in the mirror told its own story, with  little to indicate that the ending would be happy."
The interplay between Rebus and the characters and suspects he meets during the course of his investigation is always a joy and a pleasure to behold showcasing the crisp and delightful writing skills of Mr Rankin....."Thought you'd been put out to pasture? I'm here for a bit of a graze, Rebus replied"........"Tea or coffee? Then, to Fox specifically: And how do you take it? Without Saliva, preferably."........."You snatched some of my business cards, Fox said eventually. Of course I did- sometimes people need to think they're talking to a cop. But they're not, John, and impersonating a police officer is an offence. I know guys who spent their whole lives on the force doing not much more than impersonating cops."
Rather be the Devil once again proves that even in retirement there is still great mileage and stories to be had from the pen of Ian Rankin and the stubborn inquiring mind of John Rebus. It will be a sad day when our great detective finally brings to an end his long and colourful career a time of great lament and perhaps in Scotland a day of national mourning!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,035 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.