BLACK AND BLUE
Nearly 30 years after a serial killer dubbed Bible John abruptly retired after three vicious murders, he's back in the news again. Johnny Bible, an equally perverted killer who seems to be much younger, is imitating him with a gusto that suggests close research. Even though he knew one of Johnny Bible's victims, Edinburgh's Inspector John Rebus is in no position to take on this new case; he's got his hands full with a murdered oil-rig painter and the threatened reopening of a case in which he and his mentor, Inspector Lawson Geddes, may have planted evidence years and years ago that framed Lenny Spaven, who went to his death insisting he was innocent. When Rebus takes a few days in Aberdeen to visit the oil company's headquarters and incidentally chat up the locals about another of Johnny Bible's victims, he ends up under suspicion of killing a fourth victim himself and gets stuck with a minder who'll report his every move back to the very same Chief Inspector who's been put in charge of the Spaven case. Can things get any worse? Of course they can. For even though Rebus is behind the eight-ball, another avenger--Bible John himself--is prepared to do whatever it takes to catch the copycat. Rebus's eighth case (Let It Bleed, 1996, etc.) is his biggest and most grueling so far. Yet Rankin's dexterity in juggling plots and threats and motives lights up the darkness with a poet's grace. Reading him is like watching somebody juggle a dozen bottles of single malt without spilling a drop.