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Tooth and Nail    by Ian Rankin order for
Tooth and Nail
by Ian Rankin
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 1996

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* * *   Reviewed by G. Hall

Scottish writer Ian Rankin is one of the elite circle of the best of recent British authors, and his books are a must-read for any mystery lover, especially for serious Anglophiles. This author has been receiving more and more attention in the last decade, winning many awards, including the Mystery Writers Association Gold Dagger Award for Tooth and Nail.

Rankin's novels feature Detective Inspector John Rebus, an Edinbugh policeman whose single-minded focus on crime-solving has taken over his whole life. Rebus is a lone spirit who does not really care if he is liked but does want to get to the truth. He is both very intuitive and also stubborn in following up his often seemingly outlandish ideas, many of which end up being right. Rebus is an entertaining hero, blessed with a witty and sardonic sense of humor. You might not want to be Rebus' friend in real life but, as with many other fictional detectives, he sure is interesting to watch as he conducts murder investigations in these well-plotted tales.

Tooth and Nail finds Rebus away from his Edinburgh home turf. He has been called to London to aid in the investigation of serial killings by a Wolfman who leaves bite marks on victims. Rebus has been billed, incorrectly, as knowledgeable about serial killings and meets the expected resentment aimed at an outside expert. Increasing this bias is the innate superiority the Londoners feel over Scots. Rebus meets his match in Inspector George Flight who is coordinating the investigation. Along the way Rebus encounter Lisa Frazer, a psychologist specializing in criminal profiling. She volunteers to help and ends up romantically involved with him.

In recent years serial murders have become almost a cliché in crime fiction; a lazy way to give a book momentum by rolling out another killing when needed. However, in Tooth and Nail, the author has created a wonderfully-plotted mystery that is well above the norm and with a truly surprising resolution. Readers will really enjoy the interactions between Rebus and Flight, as well as the well-drawn portraits of other characters. This is a great story, one which sent me to the library for more Rankin reading.

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