Sunday, February 19, 2017

Book Review: TOOTH & NAIL, by Ian Rankin

Ian Rankin
TOOTH & NAIL (John Rebus #3)
Minotaur Books, 2008
304 pages
Crime / Detective / Inspector

The more I read Ian Rankin, the more I love this guy, and the more I love the fictional lead, Inspector John Rebus. TOOTH & NAIL is the third book a slew of novels, and to date, might be my favorite.

In TOOTH & NAIL, Rebus' recent success has not gone unnoticed. Hailed something of an expert in the arena of Serial Killers, Rebus is called to London. They have a sick serial killer on the loose. They need his help on the case. A fresh set of eyes. A new perspective for looking at the stacking piles of evidence.

The serial killer shows no sign of pattern. Nothing the police can identify, anyway. Each of the victims seems random. The locations where the bodies are found, random. The ages of the victims, random. The only consistency is that the victims are women. The other similarity is the way they are killed. A knife slicing away their life . . . and the a bite taken out of their abdomen.

As always, Rankin includes plenty of Rebus' personal life. The inspector's ex-wife and daughter are living in London. This gives him a chance to catch up with his family. Trouble is, his little girl, Sammy, is dating. Rebus (as any good father) doesn't like the guy. He's too old for her, too wild. And as the plot unfolds, a bit of a lawbreaker. Dealing with family matters only adds additional pressure, and stress as Rebus and his London team hunt for the serial killer known now as The Wolfman.

The city is in panic mode. Rebus calls on psychological tricks to attempt luring the Wolfman out publicly. The ridicule is sure to upset the serial killer. Only the plan backfires when the killer goes after a member of Rebus' team, instead of after Rebus.

With lives on the line, time is running out. If Rebus can't solve the mystery more people are going to die. People he cares about are going to die!

Ian Rankin has a smooth, matter-of-fact writing style. He doesn't bog down his narrative with flowery prose. He keeps the pace with succinct descriptions, and terse, authentic dialogue. The supporting cast is wonderfully filled-in. Each character given plenty of attention, and depth so that they become real on the page. There was a time, back when James Patterson wrote his novels, when I thought Alex Cross was the best detective in the fiction world. I think John Rebus far surpasses that legend.

Phillip Tomasso
Author of the Severed Empire Series
and The Vaccination Trilogy

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