Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Rather Be the Devil (Inspector Rebus, #21)” as Want to Read:
Rather Be the Devil (Inspector Rebus, #21)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Rather Be the Devil

(Inspector Rebus #21)

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  10,120 ratings  ·  929 reviews
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 Chr
Kindle Edition, 317 pages
Published November 3rd 2016 by Orion
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Rather Be the Devil, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
C.T. Hunter Hank Marvin's backing band were called The Shadows. His X-Rays showed a shadow on his lung. Rebus using music as he frequently does to make light of s…moreHank Marvin's backing band were called The Shadows. His X-Rays showed a shadow on his lung. Rebus using music as he frequently does to make light of something potentially serious(less)
Alice By now you have probably finished the book or be well into it..... yes it can standalone but of course if you have read other Rebus stories you will k…moreBy now you have probably finished the book or be well into it..... yes it can standalone but of course if you have read other Rebus stories you will know more about each character's personality or quirks . Rankin has written in such a way however, that gives enough depth to each situation so that you don't feel like you have missed something important. I had missed reading a good number of books in the middle of the series but that wasn't a problem either.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  10,120 ratings  ·  929 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Rather Be the Devil (Inspector Rebus, #21)
Oct 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Oct 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
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 retiremen
Jul 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5000-2020
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.
Diane S ☔
Jan 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 w ...more
Andrew Smith
Dec 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
James Thane
Jul 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
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 a
Joey Woolfardis
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 t
John Martin
Dec 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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.
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
Jan 09, 2020 rated it liked it

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.....f
Liz Barnsley
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 t
Michael Robotham
Apr 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
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.
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 I
Carol -  Reading Writing and Riesling
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 “ret
Lewis Weinstein
Jun 20, 2017 rated it it was ok
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). ...more
Susan Johnson
Jan 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: net-galley
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 di
Stefani Sloma
I will never NOT read an Ian Rankin book.
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 t
Amanda Patterson
Apr 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 Ma
Apr 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 sleuthi
Feb 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 on ...more
Oct 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 i
Manuel Antão
Dec 15, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Rebus is Still Alive and Kicking: "Rather Be the Devil" by Ian Rankin

Judging by this single book, Rankin is a journeyman writer who is good at both character and plot. His main man is a police detective named John Rebus, who is, in the cliched-hallowed literary tradition of crime fiction, a pensioner with no straight arrow boss to bust his chops. There is the further cliched-hallowed implication that he has two sidekicks, Fox and Clark
Kiwi Begs2Differ  ✎
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 (view spoiler) 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 ...more
Rob Twinem
Oct 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Bill Lynas
Nov 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Kathy Davie
Mar 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 poin
Nov 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Such pleasure reading everything I can find by Ian Rankin for decades now and this 21st Rebus has been pure pleasure. Like spending time with old friends with Rebus and his colleagues in beautiful Edinburgh with new cases inter working with cold cases. Rankin does the connection between the then and now so well. Giving an aging Rebus still his just run and place, interacting with the players in the city vying for power. While giving his colleagues their just time. Total good read. As always.
Nov 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
When I read a book review, to me, I find there are two types - one - which I rarely do myself - is a deep analysis of the book, while the other is a bare bones description that gives a brief 'what is the book about' and 'is it worth one's time to read.'

Well, in this installment of Ian Rankin's John Rebus series, yes, this is a good book and is worth one's time to read.

Rebus is now retired and still meddling in police investigations. In this novel he gets pulled into the investigation of a cold
Mar 04, 2017 rated it liked it
As always, I enjoyed being back in the company of John Rebus and Malcolm Fox. I didn't care for the subplot of this one, however -- the Maria Turquand story. I found it hard to follow, and I didn't see why Rankin created the very large number of subplot characters that he did, because it seemed as though the Turquand story could have been told much more simply.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
The Rankin-phile: Rather be the devil 4 25 Oct 30, 2019 01:25PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Witch Hunt
  • Many Rivers to Cross (Inspector Banks, #26)
  • Blood Hunt
  • Still Life (Inspector Karen Pirie #6)
  • Dead or Alive
  • All That’s Dead (Logan McRae #12)
  • A Darker Domain (Inspector Karen Pirie, #2)
  • When the Music's Over (Inspector Banks, #23)
  • The Darkest Evening (Vera Stanhope, #9)
  • Friends and Traitors (Inspector Troy, #8)
  • Children of the Revolution (Inspector Banks, #21)
  • All the Colours of Darkness (Inspector Banks, #18)
  • Bad Boy (Inspector Banks, #19)
  • The Distant Echo (Inspector Karen Pirie, #1)
  • Gallows View (Inspector Banks, #1)
  • The Blood Road (Logan McRae #11)
  • Sleeping in the Ground (Inspector Banks, #24)
  • Broken Ground (Inspector Karen Pirie, #5)
See similar books…
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

Other books in the series

Inspector Rebus (1 - 10 of 23 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)
  • Mortal Causes (Inspector Rebus, #6)
  • Let It Bleed (Inspector Rebus, #7)
  • Black and Blue (Inspector Rebus, #8)
  • The Hanging Garden (Inspector Rebus, #9)
  • Dead Souls (Inspector Rebus, #10)

Related Articles

The prolific and beloved author John Grisham, known for his courtroom thrillers, is back this month with a new pageturner, A Time for Mercy,...
38 likes · 8 comments
“I've just worked out what the music on the speakers is," he said. "It's John Martyn, Over The Hill."
"And ?"
"And nothing. It's just, maybe I'm not there yet.”
“There were always dog walkers out & about. Sometimes they even stopped for a chat while the various mutts inspected each other. Rebus would be asked how old his dog was.
No idea.
The breed, then ?
And all the while, he would be thinking about cigarettes.”
More quotes…