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by Ian Rankin
Little, Brown, March 2006
400 pages
ISBN: 0316009113

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Once a writer becomes famous, you do start to worry when publishers go rifling through the author's bottom drawers and reappear brandishing long-forgotten manuscripts. After all, look at Louis De Bernieres. It was bad enough having CAPTAIN CORELLI'S MANDOLIN inflicted on us without this being followed by earlier efforts that should perhaps have remained hidden!

Fortunately Ian Rankin doesn't let us down. A number of his thrillers from the 1990s are being published or reissued, and BLOOD HUNT is more than worth the paper it's printed on.

It's a tightly-plotted, crisply-written effort with echoes of boys' own stories. Hero Gordon Reeve and his wife are funning Outward Bound-type courses in deepest Scotland. He's a flawed character -- ex-SAS and with serious anger management issues. He knows that one more step out of line and he's likely to be sectioned.

Not that this stops him cavorting round Europe and the US and knocking off a load of bad guys. He gets to this point, incidentally, following the death of his journalist brother Jim in San Diego. The police reckon it's suicide; Gordon doesn't agree. And the presence of rent-a-thugs on both sides of the pond, and of a dodgy company suggest he's right.

There's no fancy stuff here -- Rankin presents us with a thoroughly depressing and plausible motive for Jim's death, something you'd not be surprised to see in the investigative sections of newspapers. And there's a very nasty blast from Gordon's SAS past, as he attempts to uncover what really happened.

Gordon was known as the Philosopher to SAS colleagues, quotes Nietzsche and is interested in anarchism. These slightly unlikely facets don't overwhelm the character, but they do make you wish there could have been a little deeper exploration of what makes this complex guy tick.

But BLOOD HUNT is a heck of a page-turner from a talented writer who can create exciting standalones thrillers just as easily as he keeps a long-running police procedural series ticking over.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, February 2006

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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