WATCHMAN by Ian Rankin

WATCHMAN

KIRKUS REVIEW

An early, Rebus-less spy thriller from Rankin (The Naming of the Dead, 2007, etc.), published for the first time in the United States.

Miles Flint, a weary, aging dogsbody in MI5’s surveillance-and-report unit (the “Watcher” service), decides to tag along and help tail “Latchkey,” an Arab businessman who might have skulduggery in mind. Despite the surveillance, Latchkey bolts, leading to an Israeli decapitation and major cover-ups by several secret services, most of which attract attention from Flint, who suspects something fishy is going on. Soon Flint is on the run from those who want to silence him, a crowd that includes his superior Partridge; his wife’s new romantic interest, his colleague Billy Monmouth; and Andrew Gray, who, with CIA backing, has several informants on his payroll. Flint is sent packing to Belfast, supposedly to oversee the apprehension of some IRA terrorists, but the fix is in, and the beleaguered watcher must flee with Will Collins, one of the pair whose arrest he was supposed to be witnessing. The two piece together a saga of frayed allegiances, self-aggrandizement and chicanery that began with an assassination and spanned the career of an MP on a security-funding commission before winding up as a four-part investigative series in a London daily.

Not as stylishly compelling as Rankin’s later efforts, but a gritty appraisal of the bomb-wielding miasma of the 1980s and a highly readable explanation of the demons that drive zealots to switch sides.

Pub Date: Dec. 11th, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-316-00913-3
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2007




Upcoming Kirkus Interview

August 11, 2015
Ian Rankin

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.

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