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by Ian Rankin
Little, Brown, November 2006
384 pages
ISBN: 0316009121

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

This is my first Ian Rankin novel. I have heard so much about the man that I feel like I know him already, though we've never met. This is one of his standalones -- the story of a young assassin, Michael Weston, who finds himself in hot water after a successful kill. He's known to the police as the Demolition Man, and after this assassination they are hot on his trail.

He is also being pursued by an American private detective. A very long time ago, West made a mistake. It's his only known 'accident.' The father of the murdered girl hired Leo Hoffer to find Michael and bring him to justice. Hoffer is right on Michael's heels as well.

Michael must find out who set him up, and why. The search for answers leads him through England and Scotland, to the United States, and across the country to Seattle. Danger follows his every step, and Michael has a new impediment, the daughter of a friend named Belinda. Bel worms her way into Michael's heart, and their unlikely love story gives this novel a melancholic, engaging tone.

I always love stories that make me root for someone who is morally bankrupt. Michael is a killer, he's paid money to assassinate people and not ask questions. Yet he is a sensitive, caring man, one whom you would be lucky to have as a friend, the kind of man who engenders loyalty from all those around him, even the ones pursuing him. Respect goes a long way when you're a criminal. And Leo Hoffer could hold up a book of his own -- he's a richly drawn character who I loved to hate.

My only real complaint was the book seemed to go on for quite a while. There was a lot of ground to cover, literally, on two continents, a love story to fit in and a plot worthy of knighthood, with a twist no one will see coming. But it took me nearly a week to finish. That may be because I was getting accustomed to Rankin's literary style after several quick reads. I do look forward to sampling his Rebus series soon.

Reviewed by J. T. Ellison, August 2006

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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