SAINTS OF THE SHADOW BIBLE is an exceptional book, even by this standard.
I read two Ian Rankin books last year, but this is the one that made my Best Reads of 2013 list because it is simply the best book he has yet written. It has all that readers have come to expect…and much more. But I digress. Or jump ahead. I’m supposed to tell you something about the book first…
SAINTS OF THE SHADOW BIBLE is neither a Rebus nor a Fox story; it is both. I was skeptical about this because, frankly, I wasn’t holding out a ton of hope for a book wherein these guys spent 400-odd pages sparring. I just don’t find that very interesting.
I need not have been concerned, though, because the characters we know and love—including the ancillary folks who populate Rankin’s pages—each play an important role in the investigation of a current case and one that dates back thirty years, to when Rebus was new to the police force and still developing his nascent moral compass.
Current events—specifically, the campaign for and against Scottish independence—play a significant role in the story, and this might be curious to American readers. Whether or not you decide to learn more about this aspect of it, though, it won’t impede your enjoyment of SAINTS OF THE SHADOW BIBLE.
The current case, which Rebus is investigating with former-student-but-now-senior-to-him-because-he’s-been-demoted Siobhan Clarke, concerns a car crash that some wealthy folks seem to want to sweep under the proverbial rug. Which goes over like a house on fire with Rebus, of course.
The other is a re-opening of a murder by a police snitch, whose acquittal of the crime 30 years ago was maybe down to someone then-young Rebus worked with (hence, Fox’s involvement).
The cases are interesting on their own. Together, they comprise a story that is sophisticated, intricate, and fascinating. But as mentioned above, it is the exploration of the characters that makes this book so special. Nobody is one-dimensional, and I found even the fabulously wealthy among them believable (I usually don’t find wealthy character credible). There is nothing even vaguely resembling filler. Not every question asked is answered, nor does it need to be.
It is difficult for me to summarize why SAINTS OF THE SHADOW BIBLE affected me so deeply. Perhaps that’s just it—it can’t really be summed up in a sentence. It is both a compelling and engaging read, to be sure, but it is also an important book, one I can’t recommend strongly enough.
Author’s Website: IanRankin.net