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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Resurrection Men

Ian Rankin

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To purchase Resurrection Men

Title: Resurrection Men
Author: Ian Rankin
Genre: Novel
Written: 2001
Length: 484 pages
Availability: Resurrection Men - US
Resurrection Men - UK
Resurrection Men - Canada
Die Tore der Finsternis - Deutschland
  • Resurrection Men is the thirteenth John Rebus novel

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Our Assessment:

B+ : entertaining police procedural, though Rankin gets a bit carried away by the end

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Daily Telegraph D 2/2/2002 Toby Clements
The Guardian . 26/1/2002 James Campbell
New Statesman . 7/1/2002 Nicola Upson
The NY Times Book Rev. . 9/2/2003 Marilyn Stasio
People . 3/2/2003 Joe Heim
The Spectator . 12/1/2002 Allan Massie
TLS A- 11/1/2002 Michael Caines
The Washington Post . 10/2/2003 Patrick Anderson

  Review Consensus:

  No consensus, generally favourable

  From the Reviews:
  • "Rankin has a great reputation for writing fast-action gritty thrillers, casting light on the darker side of Edinburgh, but Resurrection Men is a disappointment. The plot just about holds up, but it is at the expense of almost everything else that makes crime fiction a pleasure to read." - Toby Clements, Daily Telegraph

  • "Resurrection Men is more densely plotted than the earlier books. In fact, it is all plot; no twist goes without a counter-twist, and then a counter-counter-twist. (...) A look back at the early novels brings a sense of relief at the way the story surges forward in broad strokes. Here, it jolts and stutters from one surprise to the next. (...) Rankin is unquestionably an ingenious plotter, but this one seems more about means than end." - James Campbell, The Guardian

  • "(I)t bears all the qualities that have established Rankin as one of Britain's leading novelists in any genre: a powerful sense of place; a redefinition of Scotland and its past; persuasive dialogue; and a growing compassion among its characters. What it lacks, however, is the originality of Rankin's previous novel, The Falls, which revelled in Edinburgh's blood-soaked history." - Nicola Upson, New Statesman

  • "Although a reader could get dizzy trying to follow all the permutations of the three multilayered cases, Rebus not only finds the hidden connections but also manages to keep his footing in the shifting moral landscape." - Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review

  • "For anyone who likes a mystery with literary flair and without a sermon, this is an eminently satisfying read." - Joe Heim, People

  • "(H)is novels have a narrative drive that Chandler never matched. This new one is no exception, fully up to the high standard he has set himself. (...) The plot is as complicated as ever, utterly riveting and elegantly worked out. But the sub-text is that Rebus's lack of discipline and self- control is indeed threatening his career. He knows it, and fears that he is being set up himself." - Allan Massie, The Spectator

  • "Resurrection Men makes for addictive reading and should consolidate the reputation of his creator, Ian Rankin, as a crime writer of real talent. He is as keen as ever to use Rebus's adventures as a window on to modern Scotland -- in its historical context. (...) Unfortunately, a certain banality infects Rankin's prose. His style can be all too businesslike. (...) There is nothing sloppy about the way Resurrection Men is plotted, nor about the deceptively casual shoal of red herrings. He also has a deft way with incidental characters" - Michael Caines, Times Literary Supplement

  • "Rankin does not write easy novels. They are dark, gritty and detailed. They feature mostly unhappy people living mostly sordid lives. A running joke in this one is that the police station toilets, for both women and men, are always out of paper products. The convolutions of Rankin's plots will challenge your memory and possibly your intelligence. But his novels are also skillful, serious and eminently readable, and they will repay your patience. If you haven't experienced Inspector Rebus, this is a good place to start." - Patrick Anderson, The Washington Post

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Resurrection Men begins very well, with DI Rebus joining five other officers at the Scottish Police College: "The six men shared only one characteristic: they were at Tulliallan because they'd failed in some way." They're Resurrection Men, there for one more chance to get their careers back on track. It sounds like just the place for Rebus, finally not the only black sheep.
       The group is set an exercise: they have to re-examine an old, unsolved case, trying to work together as a team (apparently generally not the strongpoint of these individuals). Except it's not the usual case that's used for this training purpose. In fact, it's one Rebus was involved in -- as was another of the Resurrection Men. And Rebus is a bit concerned about what might be discovered if someone starts digging deeper or asking the right questions:

if the truth came out, Rebus's career would cease to be on the skids.
     It would be a car-wreck.
       As it turns out, there's a lot more to the remedial training course than first meets the eye. The make-up of the group looks to be too convenient to be coincidental -- some of these guys know each other. And the true purpose of getting these six together might be something else entirely ..... Unfortunately for Rebus, he's never entirely sure where he stands or who he can trust.
       Meanwhile, he's off the case being investigated back at the office -- but that at least gives his associate, DS Siobhan Clarke, a more prominent role to play. And it brings old nemesis, toady Linford, back into the station to play along.
       The case Clarke is working on involves the death of an art gallery owner. And here -- and elsewhere -- a lot points to the involvement of Big Ger Cafferty, a gangster who seems to have a piece of most of the action in Edinburgh, and who people suspect Rebus is entirely too close to. The fact that Rebus can't help meddling in this case as well also helps complicate matters for everyone involved.
       Rankin has developed a fairly intricate but neat plot. He goes a bit overboard -- especially with a melodramatic (and not particularly convincing) show-down finale -- but most of the book is solid, suspenseful fun. The various secrets that the Resurrection Men have, and the games Rebus plays with them and others are all quite clever. The emphasis in this book is on the policemen, from Rebus' colleagues to the Resurrection Men he's put together with, and Rankin works fairly well with all of them.
       Resurrection Men doesn't quite sustain the quality and promise of its first few hundred pages, but it is a solid, enjoyable thriller.

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Resurrection Men: 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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© 2004-2009 the complete review

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