Read Black and Blue by Ian Rankin Online


Bible John killed three women, and took three souvenirs. Johnny Bible killed to steal his namesake's glory. Oilman Allan Mitchelson died for his principles. And convict Lenny Spaven died just to prove a point. "Bible John" terrorized Glasgow in the sixties and seventies, murdering three women he met in a local ballroom--and he was never caught. Now a copycat is at work. NiBible John killed three women, and took three souvenirs. Johnny Bible killed to steal his namesake's glory. Oilman Allan Mitchelson died for his principles. And convict Lenny Spaven died just to prove a point. "Bible John" terrorized Glasgow in the sixties and seventies, murdering three women he met in a local ballroom--and he was never caught. Now a copycat is at work. Nicknamed "Bible Johnny" by the media, he is a new menace with violent ambitions. The Bible Johnny case would be perfect for Inspector John Rebus, but after a run-in with a crooked senior officer, he's been shunted aside to one of Edinburgh's toughest suburbs, where he investigates the murder of an off-duty oilman. His investigation takes him north to the oil rigs of Aberdeen, where he meets the Bible Johnny media circus head-on. Suddenly caught in the glare of the television cameras and in the middle of more than one investigation, Rebus must proceed wiht caution: One mistake could mean an unpleasant and not particularly speedy death, or, worse still, losing his job. Written with Ian Rankin's signature wit, style and intricacy, Black and Blue is a novel of uncommon and unforgettable intrigue....

Title : Black and Blue
Author :
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ISBN : 9780312966775
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 352 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Black and Blue Reviews

  • Andrew Smith
    2019-03-10 09:12

    I think the reason I like the Rebus novels so much stems from the fact that they have so much more in common with American noir fiction than they do with the classic British whodunit. Rankin’s frontman is a hardened (SAS trained), drinking man with sometimes dubious scruples but one who cares passionately about getting the job done - which for him entails tracking down the bad men. There’s a lot of Rankin in Rebus: they drink in the same pub (Edinburgh’s Oxford Bar), their music tastes seldom stray from progressive rock and their working class upbringing in Fife, just across the water from Edinburgh, has shaped both into the slightly cynical but sharp witted men they are.Rankin writes seriously about modern Scotland and has interesting views on topical (at the time of writing) events. Here he points his pen at Scottish oil but in other books he’s covered homelessness and the plight of asylum seekers amongst a raft of topics he’s turned his attention to. The city of Edinburgh is also a star of these books; seen by many as a posh and civilised enclave where crime barely registers, Rankin shows us the underbelly of the city. As Glaswegians like to say about their Eastern neighbours it’s aw fur coats an nae knickers.As the book opens, we see that John Rebus is in purgatory. He’s upset his bosses again and has been posted to Craigmillar station, the toughest in the city. Not that Rebus is likely to be tied down for any length of time – its not long before he’s wondering off on his own, well away from the public housing hotspots of this impoverished corner of the city. In fact, he travels far and wide as discovery of a tortured body leads to links with the oil industry and, in a secondary plotline, he is on the trail of an imitator of the real-life Glasgow murderer ‘Bible John’. And just to throw another problem into the mix, John is being investigated for his part in an arrest and subsequent conviction some years before. Time to get on the road and make yourself scarce, John.This book won Rankin the Gold Dagger for best crime novel of the year (1997), awarded by the Crime Writers Association. It’s big and quite complex and the scale is vast: lone wolf Rebus finds himself in Glasgow, Aberdeen, Shetland and the oil fields of the North Sea. Unpleasant characters abound. It’s clever and wry and sometimes laugh out loud funny. It’s all of this and more, but for me the beauty of the book is in the way the story is told more so than the in story itself: Rankin is a supreme wordsmith and a truly gifted literary writer. Add to this the fact that nobody writes dialogue better than he and you just know you’re going to have fun when you pick up a Rebus novel. Is he the finest crime writer of his generation? Maybe. I’d personally vote for James Lee Burke, but I think Rankin comes a very close second.

  • Dannii Elle
    2019-03-08 10:06

    It has been a while since I have indulged in some Ian Rankin crime fiction and this book has reminded me why I classify his books as pure escapism!Despite being first published twenty years ago, this book has a lasting relevancy and an enjoyment that can be garnered from a contemporary reader used to, perhaps, a more psychological twist to their crime fiction.Some aspects of this novel seemed particularly tried, like the gruff, alcoholic detective whose eyes we see this world through, but, for me, this only added to the enjoyment of the piece. Certain parts of this adhered to what was expected from a 90's crime novel, but there were still enough thrills and chills to keep me entertained.For if the characters felt a little stereotypical, the plot most certainly was not. The lone wolf Detective Rebus traverses the cities of Scotland as a myriad of murder mysteries haunt his psyche and overload his workload. A returned serial killer from the presumed dead. A possible gang-related killing. A police force with perhaps more than one source of income. And a teneous urban link that connects them all.I loved how this novel acted as a running social commentary of its time (the late 90s) and the setting (urban Scotland), and it was fascinating to me how different life was then, despite the mere twenty year gap between the setting and now. The reader can learn much on the way politics, societal attitudes and technology has altered from this book, despite that not being its official usage.

  • Antonomasia
    2019-03-22 04:08

    What would series crime fiction be like without the clunky crap? I've wondered more than once in the last 18 months, as I started reading more of the genre than I had since my teens. Answer: It would be like an Ian Rankin.For over twenty years, I'd assumed to some extent that his books must be overhyped and trashy, as a lot of thrillers are. A ten year old list of 100 best Scottish books - which included Black & Blue - at least gave me pause for thought and a vague intention to get round to him one day. Rankin books are so ubiquitous that it seemed ridiculous to seek them out actively: on some level I was waiting for them to fall into my lap at the right time. (The same attitude is responsible for my not having read more of Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City series. And it actually worked with Discworld books, when at university I knew numerous Pratchett fans.) I found this copy of Black & Blue - the only Rebus I'd have considered reading out of series order, and complete with the 90s/early 2000s cover, which to my mind is what Ian Rankin novels should look like - in holiday accommodation, when, as I'd read a few Scandis reportedly influenced by Rankin, not having read him was starting to feel like a gap in my knowledge.In fairness, I've not read any Martin Beck or Wallander, the other major influences on recent Nordic thrillers. Nor was John Rebus the first drunk maverick loner detective. But - and especially by comparison with all the later ones - I want to give him the Kellogg's slogan: Original and best. And this is the eighth book in the series: by that stage most series authors have a disintegrating dead horse on their hands, yet Rankin was starting to peak. The only books I've read comparable to this are a few John le Carrés: both use genre tropes, but those tropes are more alive, more entertaining and made more original in the hands of these authors than when churned out by the rest of the hacks.In the intricacy (but never inaccessibility) of its intertwining plot strands, Black & Blue beats Booker-nominated thriller doorstop The Kills hands down. Makes it look so easy. And makes it look like other crime writers are padding out their novels with long scenes of moodily starting into space: this is 500 pages and Rebus is rarely doing that for more than a couple of sentences. There's too much happening to waste page-time on that, regardless of how the character's feeling (and that is conveyed succinctly). The kidnapped guy who launched himself out of a window in one of Edinburgh's most run down estates; the Glasgow gangsters; the oil-slick corrupt goings on in Aberdeen; the internal investigation into an old case; a stint giving up the booze; serial killers old and new. (And fictional and real. Bible John didn't hang over the West of Scotland to quite the extent Hindley and Brady do over north-west England, but there's something of that. Especially if you've met people of the victims' generation. Taking the narrative viewpoint - here close third - of a real person and making it believeable is by no means easy - I saw a lacklustre attempt to narrate as Greta Garbo in a short story last week - but Rankin pulls it off and makes it utterly convincing.) Fictional maverick cops are frequently in trouble with their bosses, but it's very rare to see one be forced to empathise so closely with suspects, to have his (greatly valued, solitary) boundaries invaded as does Rebus here - and it's the quality of writing that does that over and above mere storyboarding. Many times, Rankin throws new light on events typical of crime fiction.We're obviously in a nearby parallel universe of Thrillerland, but it all works, it never seems contrived, rather it's impressive. Covering three major Scottish cities, Shetland, and some lands between, Black and Blue is also a panorama of the country and its local cultures. And of a point in time: areas in the process of regenerating with flash new buildings, on a cusp between old and new centuries, tired old Tory rule and the brink of New Labour and the Scottish Parliament; the topicality of the first plans for oil rig decommissioning; very occasional use of email and cellphones by a couple of characters, but a lot of scrabbling for payphone coins and calling your home answering machine - and the space and silence and escape you could still get just before everyone had portable digital thingies. It's a fairly androcentric world/police force - recalls what a novelty Prime Suspect once was - whilst Rebus and some, though certainly not all, of his colleagues are non-sexist, without being unconvincingly right-on. Sometimes the sense of the era is in the little details, like the use of the word New Age, about merely enjoying the view of a sky, or about travellers - and the spot-on choice of having a left-wing guy in his twenties carry around a copy of Iain Banks' Whit in his rucksack. It knows it's only half zeitgeisty, because Rebus is older than his author, and both his job and he as a personality are somewhat detached from the buzz; and Rebus sometimes regrets having missed pop cultural moments during his years in the army, but these lacunae make him part of his own small subculture with others like himself. Rebus may be a recognisable archetype, yet he's drawn so very well (unlike the other lazy, blurry impressions of his sort elsewhere) that he feels more real than the characters in most books I've read this year. There's a certain kind of grumpy, dark mood that I feel can only be adequately externalised by sulking about with drink and cigarette, most probably in a pub, and Rebus rapidly became one of the characters I'm very happy to have do this for vicariously. I'll probably need more of him in the coming months. Just as well there are over 20 books. It now seems idiotic to have shunned this series for so long - but it does mean there's a feast to enjoy. Even among my favourites and 5-star books, I can't remember previously understanding why anyone would say "I envy people who haven't read X yet, and still have the pleasure of discovering it" - but over the last few days, whilst not everything has been easy, when reading Black and Blue, I often felt almost as I have done on favourite social occasions: savouring a peak moment and feeling nostalgia even whilst it's still happening.

  • Amanda Patterson
    2019-02-28 06:01

    Gold Dagger Winner, 1997 - “This book almost killed me! So I’m glad there’s been some recompense.” – Ian Rankin, January 6th 1998.Rankin's coming of age, hard-boiled police procedural is one of my all time favourite crime novels. Serial killer ”Bible John” murdered three people 30 years ago, and then disappears. He’s back – or is it a copycat, nicknamed Bible Johnny, by the press? Rebus has his hands full with solving the murder of an oil rig painter and he’s under investigation for planting evidence in an old case. But the real plot takes place within the mind of Rankin’s enigmatic protagonist, DI John Rebus. Rebus is an obsessed maverick, a tenacious drunkard, a selfish father, and an egotistical ex-husband. Black & Blue is set in Edinburgh & Aberdeen, the cities scarred, scrabbled souls as poignant as Rebus’s own.Rankin is one of the most gifted storytellers and Black & Blue is one of the most brilliant stories I’ve ever read. If it were not seen as a genre book, I believe that ‘Black & Blue’ could win a prize in any literary competition. Rankin juggles his characters, his words, his plot and his story with the skill of a writer at the height of his craft. The twist at the end is terrifying in its ordinariness. The scary thing about Ian Rankin is that he keeps on getting better.

  • Ammar
    2019-03-23 05:02

    So far the best Rebus novel of the 8 I have read. In this novel, Rankin uses a story he heard from a friend and builds up a whole narrative which is amazing. John Rebus is mobile , he takes us all around Scotland in this book. From Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, to the Shetlands and the oil rigs in the Atlantic. There are four crimes in this 500 pages novel. Rankin's most ambitious so far - as I am reading the series one books at time. The four crimes connect the past to the present. A Bible John and his 'son' Johnny Bible.. Who is watching who and who is learning from who ? And why would someone jump in a chair from a third floor building ??? A prank or an assassination. Rebus is joined in this book with his friend from Knots and Crosses Jack Morton. This book is a wonderful example of Tartan Noir.

  • Fiona
    2019-02-22 11:01

    Up we go to five stars! Rankin is the master, and here's where he hits his stride.Yesterday afternoon, I handed in an almighty-huge work project that I've been plugging away at for two months. In celebration, I took the evening to myself: bubble bath, glass of whisky, Rebus. Exactly how these things should be done. I read til the water got cold. And it was great.This is the book where Rankin started to really get noticed, and it's also the book that reminds me how much I adore this whole genre: a collection of mysteries not so much interwoven as - to mix my metaphors - plates spinning dangerously close to each other. Character is layered on puzzle, on character again. Setting looms large: Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen. Scotland as a nation is both self-aware and self-absorbed in a way that England just isn't, or I think so - and I think it's partly because of these types of novels, where characters just hang out in the major Scottish cities, and get to know everything about them. Characters just don't do that in Birmingham, Newcastle, Portsmouth. Maybe Manchester a bit. London for definite, but that's a different matter. Scottish literature seems somehow more geographically introspective than anything south of the border. (I can't comment on Wales; I've not read enough Welsh-set literature to know one way or the other. I suspect, however, that Northern Ireland is like Scotland in this respect.)In the last few years, I've written a (forever-going-to-sit-in-a-drawer-and-be-a-reminder-of-my-own-failings-slash-growth) novel set in Southampton, and it's probably a cliché these days but I'd like to write one set in Edinburgh as well. Both of those places are important to me. Reading Rankin, Spark, Dunnett (you may keep Irvine Welsh, I'm afraid), I realise quite how much there is to live up to here, compared with any other city. Reading Black and Blue, I realise it all over again.Read it for technical brilliance and the most practised hand at genre you'll have come across in a while.Read for Tartan Noir Month, 2015.

  • Denise
    2019-03-10 10:55

    Good mystery. Took me ages to finish it because I kept getting sidetracked by other books, but it held my interest throughout. I had previously read another book from this serious which was a decent read, but not exactly a great one. This one was a pleasant surprise. A series I'll be reading more from.

  • Rob
    2019-03-16 06:06

    I’m going to begin my review of Ian Rankin’s masterful Black and Blue by doing something I’ve tried to refrain from doing lately: bitching about the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). For the uninitiated – in other words, readers of my reviews who don’t know what I’m up to in my life off the computer – my problems with the CCSS aren’t some Glenn Beckian, “Obama’s a secret Muslim so let’s cancel AP US History” goofabout. Nope: my problems with it are manifold, very real, and based in the twenty years I’ve spent in the classroom as, first, a high school English teacher and, currently, a teacher educator. I’m not going to bore you to tears by illustrating all of them here, but what I am going to do is touch on how Rankin’s Rebus mystery series, and this book in particular, do a bang-up job of putting the lie to a couple of the CCSS central tenets.This is the eighth novel to feature Detective Inspector John Rebus and the fourth one I’ve read since I began the 21st Century Bookshelf Deprivation Project, but this is actually the first time I’ve written one of these lengthy reviews on one of them. So, to catch you up before I plunge headfirst into the CCSS mire, D.I. Rebus is a rumpled alcoholic loner who’s largely been a failure in his personal life because of his tendency to obsess over the cases he’s assigned. The series takes place in and around Edinburgh, Scotland, and, rather than emulate the largely dopey tendency of American mystery series to feature a killer of the week in each book (see Sandford, Patterson, Deaver, et. al.), Rankin’s series is deeply Scottish and is concerned more centrally with mysteries that plumb the depths of British identity. Rankin is, for my money, the best mystery writer working today (even better than my beloved Mo Hayder).What does any of this have to do with the CCSS? Two things, which I’ll take in turn – and I promise I’ll be talking about Black and Blue soon.David Coleman, the architect of the English Language Arts standards and self-acknowledged unqualified non-teacher, is on record as believing students shouldn’t be encouraged to bring their prior knowledge to bear on a text, focusing instead only on what they can learn from “the four corners of the page.” The most asinine example of this is his series of lessons on teaching the Gettysburg Address, which he believes should be done without sharing the cultural and historical context surrounding the delivery of Lincoln’s most famous speech. At this point I invite you to think of a time when you haven’t brought your prior knowledge and experience with you when you read. Is it even possible? When I read I’m constantly holding the text up against what I already know about the world, drawing on that prior knowledge as a way of illuminating the story (or essay or article or whatever). It seems even more important for younger, less confident readers to see this as a viable strategy. If nothing else, it lets them know what gaps in their understanding they need to fill. If they’re not engaging in this sort of metacognitive thought, it’s unlikely they’ll get what they need from whatever it is they’re reading.Which brings me back to Ian Rankin. His Rebus series is not especially well-known in the States. You can find a smattering of his stuff at your local Barnes & Noble, but he’s not exactly a name up there in recognition with John Patterson (which I’d argue isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but that’s an essay for another time). I chalk up a lot of this anonymity to a lack of cultural knowledge. As I mentioned earlier, Rankin’s series is inextricably linked to its Scottish setting and characters, and he doesn’t really hold the reader’s hand. If you pick up one of his books and don’t have at least a passing familiarity with Scotland, British government, the geography and economy of the U.K., Scots slang, etc., etc., you’re going to have a tough go of it. In other words, if you don’t have the requisite prior knowledge to draw on, the four corners of the page aren’t going to do much to help you out. Because I’m an unrepentant (and nerdy – oh so nerdy) Anglophile, I’ve got a decent understanding of what I need to make sense of the story, and part of the fun of it (for me, at least) is putting that understanding into play. It’s crucial to my enjoyment of the series, just as I’m sure the prior knowledge you bring to your favorite genres is crucial to your own. But David Coleman says it’s not important. And in that he’s dead wrong.The second way Black and Blue has some important things to tell us about the deficiencies of the CCSS deals with the way the standards enforce faulty distinctions in text types. In the great middle school dance that is the CCSS, “informational texts” are the 7th grade boys huddled on one side of the gymnasium and “literary texts” are the girls arrayed on the other side. If we’re to believe the CCSS, these two groups never touch and never dance – they’re kept artificially apart, probably by David Coleman and a yardstick. The implication in the standards is that we read literary texts for enjoyment (and also for evisceration, as we examine them for all manner of things adored by teachers and hated by students) and informational texts to learn things. While I wholeheartedly agree that we should resist the urge to overemphasize efferent readings of texts meant to be read aesthetically, the notion that we don’t learn anything from literary texts is laughable.Black and Blue illustrates this perfectly. At the start of the eighth book in the series, Rebus has been drummed out of his previous post because he annoyed the wrong people in Book 7. Now he’s officially trying to figure out who killed an oil refinery worker and unofficially trying to solve a series of murders that look remarkably like the work of Bible John, a killer operating in the late 1960s. At the same time, Rebus himself becomes the focus of an internal affairs investigation, thanks to some question marks that exist from a case he and his mentor solved early in his career. As with all of Rankin’s previous books, it’s intense, nail-biting stuff, twisty-turny and darkly funny. By this point Rebus practically leaps off the page, a flawed cop who seems all too real, and it’s to Rankin’s credit that he paints both the murder investigations and the internal affairs chess match with the same intensity. But here’s the thing: Even while I found myself dragged into Rebus’ struggles with alcohol and authority and enjoying Rankin’s way with hard-boiled dialogue, I learned at least three things:• Bible John was a real killer, operating in Glasgow in 1969. He murdered three women before dropping completely off the radar.• Aberdeen, Scotland became known as the “Oil Capital of Europe” in the mid-1970s, and refineries in the North Sea are still active.• The Shetland Islands have more in common with Scandinavia than with Scotland. They’re also really windy.The above bullets are just snapshots of the first three things that came to mind, and there’s more I picked up about each of them than I cared to include here (especially about the lives of workers on oil rigs). But all of them illustrate the fallacy of keeping informational and literary texts at arm’s length. We can learn things about the world from novels and short stories and poetry (I know more about 19th Century sailing vessels than I ever wanted to know, thanks to Dan Simmons’ horror novel, The Terror), and we can appreciate the grace and craft of well-written nonfiction (see the beginning of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring for a prime example).And this is maybe the perfect encapsulation of my problems with the CCSS: they’re too limiting. They enforce artificial boxes that reduce the study of English Language Arts to categories and formulas and easily assessed terminology. Rather than help students see the intricate web of relationships that bind history and literature and culture and film and the sciences and art, we compartmentalize all of it and warn students that we should never mix the contents of these boxes we’ve created for them. It’s a mistake that puts the lie to the CCSS tagline of “College and Career Readiness.” Existing in the world goes beyond just being college and career ready; it’s learning how to navigate the very real complexities that connect each minute of the day to the text.Read all my reviews at

  • Kathy
    2019-03-15 03:58

    Yet another one of those books you can't put down even though you ought to tend to other needed activities. I am in awe of how much great stuff was contained within this one book. One feature I warmed up to was getting to experience Rebus sober. Black and Blue? Yeah, I think I'm feeling that way after reading through several of his beatings...but then he just keeps going strong. And with so many odds stacked against him in this episode.We get internal investigations of Rebus for things long past, trips back and forth from Edinburgh to Glasgow, Aberdeen, the Shetland Islands, oil rigs, environmentalists, crime leaders moving operations from one town to another, suicides and other deaths and Rebus continually handing off his results to his female friends for credit. Whilst under investigation Rebus gains a roommate minder and they do a bit of painting and fixing up of his home as he daydreams of the possibility of retiring on pension to a seaside cottage. "'The other thing we could do is keep on with the decorating...'Rebus wrinkled his nose. 'The mood's passed.' 'You're not going to sell?' Rebus shook his head. 'No cottage by the sea?' 'I think I'll settle for where I am, Jack. It seems to suit me.' 'And where's that exactly?' Rebus considered his answer. 'Somewhere north of hell.'"

  • Erin L
    2019-03-04 09:47

    This book kept me up at night while my mind worked through Rebus and all of his faults, mistakes and efforts to solve the crime(s) through multiple threads, lines of investigation and issues with his fellow officers. He's in a bad place personally as well through an investigation into a past case that he was involved in.As always, Rankin tells an intriguing story, bringing the reader along on a thrilling ride as we travel across Scotland with his main character.

  • Ellen
    2019-03-14 10:56

    Black and Blue by Ian Rankin.This Inspector rebus story is another reason for my being hooked on Scottish mysteries and other lengthy books (Icelandic & Swedish). Nothing worth finding is on the surface. Any clues have to be heavily investigated even if it means at Rebus's peril. The characters working with and against Rebus are revealed whether in an interrogation room or out on the field; making this story all the more realistic.The ending is a completely different story and not one I expected. The author reveals on his Afterword notes that he was motivated by a real life case as yet possibly unsolved.This book is for the dedicated crime/mystery lover that can and will set aside the time to delve into the action with Rebus. As I said before I'm hooked!

  • Sean Wilson
    2019-02-28 05:15

    After a tense and readable 300 pages, Black and Blue becomes sadly boring when other subplots become involved. The detective work itself is exciting, and Inspector Rebus is a fantastic character, but Rankin's story is ultimately uninteresting and the fictionalised version of real-life serial killer Bible John is disappointing.

  • Hobart
    2019-03-20 10:54

    I wasn't sure if I should open with:He went into the toilets again, just to steady his breathing and look at himself in the mirror. He tried to relax his jaw muscles. In the past, he'd have been reaching for the quarter-bottle of whisky in his pocket. But tonight there was no quarter-bottle, no Dutch courage. Which meant for once he'd be relying on the real thing.or:...Rebus sat on a char in the interview room, watching his hands shaking.'You OK?' Jack asked.'Know what, Jack? You're like a broken record.''Know what, John? You're always needing it asked.'Either one of those works to sum up Rebus' frame of mind in the latter half of this book (and that's largely because things had gotten worse for him by that point). Not that things were ever going his way in this book.Following his gutsy political moves in the last book he's been assigned to the worst police station in Edinburgh and a case he worked early in his career as a Detective with his mentor has come under increased scrutiny thanks to some media attention, and an underdog convicted of that crime who is able to cast some doubt on the original investigation. Meanwhile, a serial killer from the late 60s (who remains uncaptured) has inspired a copycat. Rebus (like every detective in Scotland, it seems) is on the fringes of this investigation. Oh, yeah, and there's an unrelated suspicious death that Rebus needs to investigate.Four cases, with more in common than anyone expects until the most tenacious cop east of Harry Bosch starts doing his thing. He starts following threads that take him far from his desk and home -- Glasgow and eventually Aberdeen -- and the oil platforms north. While dodging the press (more persistent that he's used to) superior officers and an internal investigation, Rebus moves around the country picking at clues and hunches while getting under the skin of criminals, cops, oil company executives, and one serial killer.There are so many police officers running around this book, some we know, some we don't. Siobhan Clarke has a small, but pivotal role to play. Brian Holmes is around helping Rebus unofficially, while things with Nell are at their worst. Jack Morton, Rebus' old drinking pal plays a significant role in this novel -- he's clean and sober now, and is convinced that's what Rebus needs to do, too. Gil Templar needs Rebus' help, very unofficially. There are new detectives and from Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh for readers and Rebus to meet -- the main thing they all seem to have in common is that they don't want Rebus mucking around in their cities. I don't know if I've seen Rebus more self-destructive. He's drinking more than normal (which is saying something) and seems to care less than ever about what his superiors think of him (which is also saying something). Some of his wry sense of humor remains -- almost entirely buried under cynicism. Rebus has had doubts about what he and his mentor did years ago, and the renewed attention isn't helping his sense of guilt. He is far more interested in the serial killer cases than he ought to be professionally, it's become a habit that threatens to distract him from his actual duties. His personal demons are almost as much of an antagonist than anyone he could possibly arrest in Black and Blue. Yet, he investigates in the same way he always does -- and the way he wraps up most of the cases carry his signature style.Black and Blue is intense, it is ambitious -- for most of the book, it'd be easy to see this as being the end of the road for Rebus (if I wasn't fully aware that 13 other novels had been published with at least one more announced) -- not that you're all that worried about him living through the end, you're more worried that he'll be unemployed by the end. It's one of those novels that makes you want to ignore obligations, work and family -- none of which can be as interesting or pressing as the book. You could cut out half the murders from this novel and it'd still be a winner, including all of them makes this something more than that.I went into this one with a mix of trepidation and anticipation -- I've heard that this was where the series took a turn for the better. I recently heard an interview with Rankin where he described it that way -- sales, awards, critical acclaim, all came with this book. So I was worried that I wouldn't see what so many had before -- but was excited to try. This one lives up to expectations, as high as they might be. Just a stunning work. I honestly don't know how Rankin will top this -- I'm not sure how easy it'll be to equal it.

  • Clair
    2019-03-04 08:55

    3.5 StarsShock....Horror....this is actually my first Ian Rankin novel....but definitely won't be the last. This was one of those series that I was fully aware of, wanted to start but just hadn't got around to it. Black and Blue was originally published in 1997 so this is a nostalgic crime investigation relying on police gut instinct based upon the facts presented to them and (much!) less forensics supporting them in their theories. This novel is a chunky one but it needs to be as Rebus isn't investigating just one murder, but four! The investigation also takes Rebus across Scotland and deep into the Scottish oil industry (which I presume was very topical at the time). There are a number tightly interwoven strands to this book which Rankin expertly handles with seamless narrative with likeable characters.I did read this as a standalone with no issues but I suspect that you would benefit from having read the first 7 books and understanding where Rebus has come from as he's clearly a man that attracts trouble! In this instalment, as if the official police investigations aren't enough, he is also fighting to clear his name following accusations that he helped 'stitch up' a suspect in a previous investigation leading to his conviction. A brilliant (and nostalgic!) police procedural with Scottish edge and a gritty protagonist! My first Rankin, but not my last!

  • Jennie Rigg
    2019-03-06 11:59

    I do like a Rebus. I like the evocative sparseness of Rankin's prose, and the intricacy of his plotting. I think that if Rebus were a real copper he'd have been kicked off the force three or four times over just in the course of this book, mind, never mind the umpteen others in the series…This one ties in to a very famous real case, and has some lovely detail about locations in various bits of Scotland and off it's shore. If you've ever fancied a glimpse into the oil industry (with attached murder mystery) give this book a punt. The plotting is as beautiful as ever, and there's some interesting bits with ongoing characters.The only real problem I find with reading a Rebus is that his drinking habits seep off the page and into me. Happily (slight spoiler) he goes On The Wagon half easy through this one, so my liver has survived :)A solid 4/5 for this one.

  • Alex
    2019-03-24 07:50

    Prime Rebus. This is exactly what I was looking for, and failed to get, when I read Mortal Causes. An extremely heavy, intertwined and self-inflicted case load dogs Rebus all across Scotland. The best Rebus books offer a strong investigation - if not a mystery - and, more importantly, strong characterisation of the man himself. Rebus is the drawcard and he does not disappoint, the cover suggesting that Black & Blue is the novel that raised Rankin to the upper echelons of crime writing. Given what's on offer here, it's hard to deny.The book starts off shakily, with Rebus not only condoning a light beating for a suspect but also threatening to lock him up for the night with an "arse-bandit". These are ill-tidings, but Rankin instead chooses a different tack: condemned to purgatory and subject to an internal investigation, Rebus bucks all systems in an attempt to emerge victorious. His relationship with alcohol is treated seriously, which is something Rankin has never been consistent with (I'm saying this reading the series out of order, so I could be well off the mark here). Rebus somehow sobers up here, but obviously this is not to be a lasting trend. The credibility of the character is, by design, always questionable; there is no way that a policeman could or would be able to subvert so much procedure as Rebus does, lest Scotland sink into the ocean.Within its own parameters, though, this Rebus is Rankin near or close to his best. Heck, he even pays Siobhan lip service.

  • E
    2019-03-01 08:13

    Disappointing, esp. given Rankin's usually reliable Rebus tales. This book reads like at least three mysteries in one ("I think I shall write about the oil industry - no wait, the drug industry- no wait, organized crime - no wait, two serial killers"), and the connections provided by the end of the book are pretty uninteresting after one has to wade through all the extraneous material about the oil industry. Could have used a good editor to say, no, this is really two books - or three - why don't you choose and pare it down? Perhaps this is what happens when a strong fiction writer relies too heavily on a "real" crime as the basis for the story. While the return to the relationship between Rebus and Jack Morton is a refreshing one, I missed the interaction between Rebus and Siobhan Clarke in this one. And, please - Rebus goes on the wagon? Need I say more?

  • Lewis Weinstein
    2019-03-04 05:00

    I have read several of the Rebus series, and enjoyed them all. Rankin is one of the authors I try to read once a year, like re-visiting old friends. Also set in Scotland and worth reading is Quintin Jardine's Bob Skinner series.

  • Dimitri
    2019-02-27 05:03

    A smart graft on a real-life unsolved killing spree. What it lacks in Edinburgh flavor, it makes up for in its sobering portrayal of the Scottish oil boom.

  • L
    2019-03-16 04:08

    As always, Rankin delivers a solid, dark mystery. As usual, Rebus is in trouble with those up the ladder--he breaks rules, ignored orders, and suspects/accuses some of those in positions of authority of being dirty. That goes without saying. This book takes on the oil industry, gets into pollution & relationships between environmentalists and the police & oil corporations. The most interesting aspect of this book is Rebus' development as a character. Naturally, I can't say anything more than that without spoiling this for you.

  • Angie Rhodes
    2019-02-22 09:05

    Rebus is an unconventional DI who does things in his own way, regardless of the fact that his superiors are not happy. Scotland 1960 , serial killer Bible John, has murdered three women, taking three souvenirs, now thirty years later,,there is a copycat killer, dubbed Johnny Bible, and Rebus wants him stopping!

  • Morleymor
    2019-02-23 10:15

    An easy read, entertaining if not 100% believable.

  • Tom
    2019-03-16 06:02

    Another good book in this series. With Bible John still on the loose I cannot help but see Rankin bringing him back to cause some future trouble for Inspector Rebus. Good stuff!

  • Paul Darcy
    2019-02-27 08:00

    by Ian Rankin, published in 1997.This is the 8th Inspector Rebus novel from Ian Rankin and it’s a very good one. Rankin mixes a real life case of murder with his own twist on what may have really taken place.We see Rebus involved in several cases simultaneously in ‘Black and Blue’, and you never know just how each will tie in to the other until quite far into it. There is the old case of Bible John (the real killings) that Rebus just happened to be a sergeant on and has a dark secret about the case to keep covered up - but with Johnny Bible, another serial killer loose in the now, Rebus’s old case and even Rebus himself are up for review.But as you would suspect Rebus is not taking this sitting down - which is kind of funny because at one point in the book Rebus is sitting down and getting a grilling just like a criminal - a high point of the novel.Something else I really liked about this one was the fact that ‘Bible John’ had his own investigation going on about, what he calls his ‘upstart’ in Johnny Bible who imitates his killings of years past. The paths of Rebus and Bible John cross and re-cross with both not sure who the other is - quite fun to read. And the ending was not what I expected - very satisfying and definitely no cop out (sorry for the pun . . .)And the references to music artists and lyrics abound in ‘Black and Blue’ just as they do in most of Rankin’s Rubus novels (well the seven previous and this one anyhow). It’s a fun puzzle to work through and even this Rebus book title ‘Black and Blue’ is also an album title by ‘The Rolling Stones’ which in itself is significant to this book since this album was their first studio album with the departure of guitarist Mick Taylor and the case of Bible John is Rebus’s first killer case as a sergeant and his commanding inspector has just recently departed (yes in that sense) as he works on the Johnny Bible case in the here and now - nice tie in.But that is too much information which is what I find Rankin books to provide in spades. I probably miss about half of the implied or cryptic tie ins, but I can always read the series again later in life when I’m wiser and smarter . . .We see Gill Templar back again as well and chatting up Rebus - okay she asks him out! Good to see Rebus looking again at a relationship, but he has so much going on in this novel he doesn’t have time to tie his shoes. And I had to laugh at the “evil” Americans in this novel. Is this how Scotland sees America? Maybe I shouldn’t laugh.All in all another great novel in the Rebus series (which now ends with Rankin’s last book titled ‘Exit Music’) and is the only one I’m waiting for now to come out in paperback. I can’t wait to finish the entire series, but it will have to wait a while. I have 9 novels left yet and many more others in-between to read.So, what are you waiting for. If you like mystery novels, dry humour, good story and intriguing characters - you are going to love Inspector Rebus. Read them all - you will not regret the time spent.

  • Jo Jenner
    2019-03-17 05:56

    In the foreword to this book Ian Rankin says that this was the break out book and the one that bought Rebus to the knowledge of the reading general public. I wondered at the time whether this book just had better marketing or whether it really was a better book.This book may have got better marketing that the previous 7 but it really did deserve it. The action is fast paced and the links between the three different cases make you wonder if there is some major conspiracy going on.Rebus is as always brilliant but this time he is helped by Jack Morton an old friend from the first Rebus book.The one thing I did notice in this book is the number of women Rebus has in his professional life who will do anything for him. They seem to be able to see in his mixed up way that he is always trying to do what is right while the other men in his life just think he is a bit of a screw up who can't help sticking his nose in where it isn't wanted.The ending was a little disappointing but it did feel real and that I think is more important that having all the loose ends nicely tied up.A great novel, my favourite Rebus so far.

  • Stephanie
    2019-02-21 07:16

    I see you now, scratching your end and saying ‘I never heard of Ian Rankin’ and scouring the library to see what speculative fiction he has written. Stop – you won’t find any. Ian Rankin is a mystery/crime thriller writer and yes I am reviewing his book here.So my secret is out – I read books other than sci-fi and fantasy. I endorse this vice in all of you as well. Do not get locked into just one genre. Reading classics and other fiction give you new perspective on the genre we love while also being very entertaining at times.I knew nothing of Ian Rankin until I read an interview in one of my writer magazines, I believe it was Writer’s Digest and I was fascinated by the way he described his protagonist DI John Rebus. Rebus is a veteran cop who has no life other than police work, drinks, smokes, and is divorced from his wife plus his daughter doesn’t see him much. He is obsessive and that obsession is the main undercurrent of this book.The novel starts with a grisly scene of torture and death that seems like just another murder until later in the book when it becomes clear everything is connected. Rebus is being hounded by a film crew that is putting a story together on a convicted murderer that recently committed suicide. Rebus is haunted by the fact that his old partner convinced him to go along with what appeared to be a setup. Now his ex-partner who was retired commits suicide and Rebus is left holding the bag.Meanwhile he is obsessed with a serial killer named Johnny Bible who seems to a copycat of a serial killer from over 20 years ago called Bible John. Along the way a few murders occur, Rebus becomes a suspect in one of them and the entire goings on condense into a frenzy at the end of the book. I found it impossible to put the book down for the last 100 pages and I don’t often get that way about a story. I really liked this book, it has terrific characters and the pace is wonderful. The other thing that was fun is the setting is Scotland and the slang is very interesting. I found myself hitting Google a lot to make sure I understood some of the unfamiliar terms. The only complaint I have is that I would like to have seen a better resolution to the one character. It’s possible he comes up in a later book but I suspect not.Yes I have picked up two more Rankin novels.

  • J.
    2019-02-22 12:05

    'Black and Blue' one the 1997 Gold Dagger crime writing award. Ian Rankin is juggling many plots. There is a copy cat killer stalking women who sets off reflections for Rebus, a man who works on oil rigs has died leading Rebus to oil and drug rich Aberdeen, organised crime are a feature,and an old case which was closed involving Rebus is being reopened by his bosses and a tv program.The character of Bible John was based on a real killer in the 60's who murdered three women in Glasgow but was never caught. Ian Rankin says "mothers would say to their children, 'you'd better watch out or Bible John will get you'. In writing this book Rankin was inspired by James Ellroy in that he used more slang to create mood and a real life case.Rankin has two problems in Scotland detectives retire at 60 and he started using real life places so when St. Leonard's stopped having detectives then Rankin had to move Rebus! He said on BBC world book club that a cop in Edinburgh sent him a text message that said, “Ha ha ha. St. Leonard’s no longer has any CID guys.” Rebus is an old school cop he feels guilt deeply and smokes and drinks. The books are rooted in Edinburgh of course so the places come alive.The realism of the patter or the talk between Rebus and other characters impressed me. North Sea oil as a subject is interesting. Crime writing is sociological after all. There was a little bit much going on for my liking in this book but I liked the ending and while I was reading it strangely enough I hoped for that ending but I think I was lead there by Rankin so kudos to him.

  • Sundarraj Kaushik
    2019-03-17 10:49

    A earlier book of Inspector Rebus. I have not been reading them in the chronological order so this book takes us to an earlier era of Rebus when Gill Templar is not the boss and Siobhan has just lost her greenness in her ears.The killing of a person in Edinburgh takes Rebus to Glasgow and Aberdeen. In Aberdeen the oil industry has boomed and is now bottoming out, but it still has a lot of money. And with money comes drugs and crime. The book is around crime in the cities of Glasgow and Aberdeen rather than about Edinburgh which it the city in which most of the other Rebus novels are based.Rebus is not involved in the a case of a serial killing. The killer has been named Johnny Bible who seems to be emulating a serial killer in the past called Bible John. Rebus and his mentor had been involved in the earlier case. He along with his mentor had been involved in implicating a person under dubious conditions. His mentor has died that incident is being dug out once again.Now Rebus has to fight on three fronts, one to defend himself against the allegation of doctored evidence in the earlier case and other to solve the crime that has been handed down to him and his obsession with finding Johnny Bible to which he has not been officially assigned.A very good read for fans of Inspector Rebus. It is hard not to feel for what inspector Rebus goes through in these books.Ian Rankin shows is class in seamlessly weaving up the crime stories around the inspector and his life.

  • Jan C
    2019-03-04 10:08

    I am a big Ian Rankin fan. I didn't start with the first Rebus book, but I don't remember which one I started with. Jonathan gave me my first one and I have been hooked ever since.It wasn't until I read the Afterword that I knew that this had been based on a real case in Scotland.But, like most Rankin stories (except that dreadful volume of short stories where the only decent ones in the book were the ones relating to Rebus) it was a real page turner. The other night at 12:30 I debated whether to finish the last thirty pages. Wisdom won out and I finished it last night. Years before there had been a serial killer named Bible John who suddenly dropped off the face of the earth; now there is a Johnny Bible who seems to be copying the old man. Rebus is becoming obsessed with it. And he is having his troubles with management of course. And there is plenty of corruption to go around.

  • Mark Barrett
    2019-03-19 06:14

    After hearing so much about them, I have finally read my first Rebus novel. Okay, maybe I shouldn't have started at book eight, but I did. It's classic detective fiction: the wayward maverick genius misunderstood by his bosses; a DNA-like plot that twists, turns and crosses itself; a range of bad-guys each more sinister than the last - with the quiet, thoughtful one the most sinister of all; a series of glamorous locations (well, Aberdeen and the Shetland Islands). Everything is there and done very well - although I would recommend starting earlier in the series as there were characters and relationships introduced that I didn't quite understand. I like the way Rankin portrays ordinary banter - crap repetitive verbal gags that mirror real speech - whilst still hitting some high-volutes language in internal thoughts and descriptions. A top-notch detective thriller that does everything you'd want, with additional musical references thrown in for the crack.