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rebus in edinburgh’s jungle

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the books & more

‘It’s a straight road,’ Clarke was saying. ‘Surface wasn’t icy or greasy. Must have been going at a fair clip, judging by the damage …’
True enough: the front of the Golf had become concertinaed on impact with the venerable oak tree. They made their way past the torn fencing and down the slope. ….
‘Is he ok?’ Rebus asked.
‘He’s a she,’ Clarke corrected him. ‘Car’s registered to Jessica Traynor. Address in south-west London. She’s in the Infirmary.’
Rebus was walking around the car. It was less than a year old, pearl-coloured. From what he could see of the tires, there was plenty of tread on them. The windscreen was gone, driver’s-side door and boot gaping, both airbags deployed.
‘And we’re here because …?’
Clarke opened the folder. ‘Mainly because her father seems to have friends. Word came down from on high: make sure we’ve not missed anything.’
‘What’s to miss?’

from: Saints of the Shadow Bible

Whisky and Music

Rebus survives in Edinburgh’s jungle only with whisky and music.

When the series started he was about 40 years old, today he is about mid 60. During the last years he hasn’t aged according to real time flow, but more slowly. Concerning the ranks he started as DS (Detective Sergeant) and became DI (Detective Inspector) – Retirement followed. A short phase in a special unit for cold cases followed … A reinstatement as DS followed … Another retirement because of ill health followed. All the time Rebus indulged in his very own priorities and got lost and sometimes forgotten in his career jungle.

However, he lives at the same address all the years, in the same flat – only because of his ill health he moves finally into a flat on the ground floor. Of course he moves with all his music … his case notes …

Rebus’ Edinburgh is a dirty Edinburgh. The city jungle is filled with police intrigues, political affairs, police reorganization on-again-off-again, gang warfare, criminals of all shades, crime of all natures. Rebus navigates among career driven colleagues and corrupt old guys. Powerful people are always trying to bend the way of justice. It seems that Rebus has learnt something about anything bad and evil during his professional life – nevertheless he doesn’t seem to accept any of it or even align his life.

So: Is Rebus an innocent angel? Lost in a bad and dangerous jungle?

Rebus survives and he amasses skeletons in his closet. From the very beginning of his career he deals with his colleagues and his work. He closes his eyes whenever necessary, he backs up for colleagues whenever necessary … Nevertheless he always tries not to cross a special line which might damn him. Although close to sacking sometimes during all these years and cases he always manages to survive.

It’s never quite clear, which type of skeletons may rest in his closet, however, especially later when the police reinvents itself for living in modern times the odd skeleton surfaces. One of Rebus’ virtues is his ability to remain silent and wait until all the commotion settles. He gets on well with this.

Obviously Rebus is incorruptible – at least there are never any traces … He is always obsessed with investigating and solving a case. It doesn’t matter if he has to step on toes, especially toes of powerful people or high ranking police officers. During his career he trusted in his gut feeling telling him that always there is something under the brilliant surface which seems worth a crime. He never can be sure that the guilty party will end up in prison, but some sort of satisfaction will occur. Obviously sometimes Rebus gets on the bad side of the police guys when he follows his very own rules.

After all the years Rebus has got a reputation. In his wake there is Siobhan Clarke slowly working up the ranks and finally becoming a DI. She likes Rebus and she curses him for his stubbornness. Years ago they had a short affair, but nowadays they are friends. Siobhan is disenchanted with the police work, but she has no way out. She gets into trouble with internal investigations and has to struggle to save her reputation. (I cannot remember any other colleagues of Rebus as loyal and faithful as Siobhan.)

Once Rebus was married, then divorced. He’s got a daughter and a granddaughter, however, there isn’t much close contact. Only if one of them is worried about whatever they remember Rebus and cry for help. Rebus is always busy with his job, but when called he gets into action.

Rebus’ life is solving crimes and after his first retirement he is aimless. He doesn’t know what to do all day long and returns to police work on cold cases. His life is work and whisky and music …

… and there is his nemesis: “Big Ger” Cafferty, an underworld crime boss, reigning in Edinburgh. Every now and then they cross paths. Rebus is obsessed with Cafferty, but Cafferty always slips away … (No spoiler, but maybe the next novel might solve the eternal conflict.)

Rebus’ world is dark and full of crime, cruelty and mean-spirited people. The novels cover all this and are interesting reading stuff from the beginning until now. I like this dark world.

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a faint cold fear thrills through my veins ... william shakespeare