Brad's Reviews > Hide and Seek

Hide and Seek by Ian Rankin
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's review
Aug 21, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: doing-the-dishes, scottish-lit, mystery, north-atlantic
Read from August 21 to 27, 2011

I have a big complaint about Ian Rankin’s early Rebus novels, and it is a complaint that continues to taint my enjoyment of the series. D.I. John Rebus is too erudite. He’s impossibly well read, he knows and loves fine wine, and he’s a big jazz fan; he’s way too cultured to be a D.I..

So for that reason alone I find it impossible to enter the “really liking” territory with these books.

Yet I can’t really attack Rankin for his early decisions because the guy diffuses the bomb in his forwards to Knots and Crosses and Hide and Seek. He’s his own biggest critic when it comes to the early characterization of Rebus, and he claims that he fixes the problems as the series continues. I have to believe him until I see for myself, so my criticism is a waste of time.

I can complain, however, about Rankin’s borderline cheesy need to cleverly reference classic literature. In this book alone he has characters named Holmes, Watson and Macbeth. He has an illegal boxing club named after Edward Hyde (and by coincidence, Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic just happens to be the book Rebus picks out of a pile to read while in the middle of his investigation). We know you’re well read, Ian. Enough already.

Even with all this nitpicky criticism, though, I really enjoyed Hide and Seek. Rankin knows how to spin a mystery, even at the early stage of his career, and while he didn’t really keep me guessing, he kept me reading. And at the heart of that desire to continue is D.I. Rebus. He may be the biggest son of a bitch who’s ever been the leading detective in a mystery series. He is corrupt, self-righteous, hypocritical, misogynistic, violent, egomaniacal, bullying, and delusional. But he is smart, effective and predatory when the hunt is on. It seems to me that he’s the real deal. Not a caricature, but a character of real depth and complexity. Quite something when you consider that I’ve only reached the second book in the series.
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04/02/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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Brad Oooooo ... cool. Never read those books. I am going to have to take a look. Thanks for the tip, Elizabeth.

Brad Well sometimes there are characters who are repulsive but compelling because of it; I get the Fat Man is just repulsive without the compelling.

message 3: by Helen (Helena/Nell) (last edited Aug 30, 2011 01:44PM) (new)

Helen (Helena/Nell) I live very near Rebus territory.... In fact, Rankin is really a local author for me (as is, come to that, Iain Banks). I haven't read all the novels but I have enjoyed about three -- and I thought the most recent one I read LOADS better than the early ones, so I reckon your complaint is probably perfectly justified.

Brad I am looking forward to getting into the more recent books, because I can see how improvements in his writing would make Rebus a very good series indeed.

marie I have just read this on Kindle & it comes with a nice foreword from Ian Rankin, apologetic about these earlier books & the things that were him rather than Rebus - pretty much what you said there, actually...

Brad Cool. I am going to keep my eyes peeled for that, marie. Sounds like something I'd like to read.

Helene Haha, this made me laugh so hard. I completely agree with you on the obsessive refrences to classic literature, I found it quite cringeworthy at times!

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