A GOOD HANGING by Ian Rankin
Kirkus Star


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Nothing more than 12 character studies, perhaps—but the character they’re studying is probably the most interesting man in detective fiction, the quintessential thinking man, Edinburgh DI John Rebus. It’s fascinating to watch him ratiocinate his way through a schoolgirl’s enforced suicide (“The Gentlemen’s Club”), his old nemesis “Trigger” Crawford’s revenge on a drug dealer (“Auld Lang Syne”), a peeper’s comeuppance (“Tit for Tat”), an alibi that breaks down, rises again, then crumbles (“Not Provan”), a Hammett cliché (“The Dean Curse”), and a hanging that turns out to be manual strangulation (the title story). Rebus, per usual, groans at pathologist Dr. Curt’s puns—most noticeably in “Seeing Things”—reconstructs and then deconstructs a murder scenario in “Concrete Evidence,” believes a murderer when he recants a confession in “Playback,” and sorts through fantasy and fact as they wend their way through Frank the tramp’s brain in “Being Frank.” And while “Monstrous Trumpet” finds Rankin in a playful mood and Rebus confronting his Francophobia and a passel of man-baiters, it is the brief “Sunday” and Rebus’s reaction to murdering a thug that most worries his perpetual underling, Constable Brian Holmes—and sticks with the reader the longest afterward.

Are the stories as potent as the Rebus novels (The Falls, p. 1172, etc.)? No. But any time spent with Rebus is quality time.

Pub Date: Feb. 18th, 2002
ISBN: 0-312-28027-0
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Minotaur
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2001


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Kirkus Interview
Ian Rankin
August 11, 2015

Brilliant, irascible and frequently frustrating to both his friends and his long-suffering bosses, John Rebus has made the dark places of Edinburgh his home for over two decades. The Beat Goes On: The Complete Rebus Stories collects all of Ian Rankin's Rebus short stories for the first time, including two never-before published tales written specifically for this collection. From his beginnings as a young Detective Constable in “Dead and Buried,” right up to his dramatic, but not quite final, retirement in “The Very Last Drop,” Rebus shines in these stories, confirming his status as one of crime fiction's most compelling, brilliant, and unforgettable characters. “Rankin’s canny cop is as gray and dour as his Edinburgh beat, but he’s in fine form in these clever, occasionally touching, and often wryly funny vignettes,” our reviewer writes; we talk to Rankin this week on Kirkus TV. View video >


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