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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction



Hide and Seek

by
Ian Rankin


general information | our review | links | about the author

To purchase Hide and Seek



Title: Hide and Seek
Author: Ian Rankin
Genre: Novel
Written: 1990
Length: 210 pages
Availability: Hide and Seek - US
Hide and Seek - UK
Hide and Seek - Canada
Das zweite Zeichen - Deutschland
  • Hide and Seek is the second John Rebus novel

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Our Assessment:

B : decent, unexceptional police procedural

See our review for fuller assessment.




The complete review's Review:

       In Hide and Seek Detective Inspector John Rebus is confronted with the top and bottom of Edinburgh society. The corpse at the centre of the murder inquiry is that of a down and out young junkie, living -- and dying -- in utter squalor. Meanwhile, Rebus' boss, Detective Superintendent Watson, has roped him in to help on an anti-drugs campaign, which lets him hob nob with the rich and powerful -- fancy lunches and parties, invitations to the most exclusive clubs. No surprise then that the two worlds turn out to be closer than expected.
       There are several confusing facts surrounding the murder. There are signs of satanic worship, and the corpse seems to have been moved. The man appears to have overdosed, still clutching a packet of white powder -- but it turns out the powder in his hands is good stuff, while what he injected was a toxic mixture. And he appears to have taken a beating before he got killed.
       The deceased's girlfriend, Tracy, calls the police and gets in touch with Rebus, warily trying to help, concerned also for her own safety, all the while as much trouble as she is help. Some shadowy figures in dead man Ronnie's orbit also make it difficult to see everything clearly. Rebus enlists Detective Sergeant Brian Holmes -- "Someone who didn't know Rebus well enough to complain about being kept in the dark, about being used as a shunting engine" -- to help him out, and though there is some friction between the two they make a decent team.
       Rebus' forays into high society also prove unexpectedly enlightening. It's a fairly clever resolution, though the show-down scene looks at first to be something of a Keystone Cops routine before then turning into the overly-dramatic confrontation scene that Rankin so often insists upon (and so rarely does really convincingly).
       There's not much of Rebus' personal life here: wife and daughter are out of the picture, he has split up from Gill Templer (though there are still some feelings there), his brother has been packed off to jail, and there isn't that much interaction with his colleagues beyond Holmes (whom he is only just getting to know) and Watson. Without these personal relationships, the book doesn't have quite the depth of some of the later Rebus-novels, but the crime-story and solution is decent enough. A nice touch is the cynical end, the knowledge that the truly rich and powerful can hush things up and save their skins (the occasional sacrifice notwithstanding) -- and Rebus' awareness of all this. The compromising photographs he picks up along the way -- and isn't sure what to do with -- are also a nice touch.
       Too impatient, unwilling to really flesh Rebus out, Rankin offers another practise run with Hide and Seek, as he tries to figure the character out. Certainly readable, with some nice touches, but nothing exceptional.

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Links:

Hide and Seek: Reviews: Ian Rankin: Other books by Ian Rankin under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       British author Ian Rankin was born in 1960.

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