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The Naming of the Dead    by Ian Rankin Amazon.com order for
Naming of the Dead
by Ian Rankin
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2007 (2007)
Hardcover, CD
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Though all hands are needed on deck to handle the G8 summit that the leaders of the free world (including President Bush) will attend near Edinburgh, and officers have been drafted from all over the country, the perennially insubordinate John Rebus has been sidelined to 'man the ship'. After attending the funeral of his brother Michael - who died suddenly of a massive stroke - Rebus is called by Detective Sergeant Siobhan Clarke to join her at a crime scene. While involved in G8 preparations, she found a trophy left by the killer of a paroled rapist at Clootie Well, where people traditionally hung 'rags and remnants' of clothing for good luck.

Of course, it doesn't take long for Rebus to come in conflict with his superiors and, this time - on several occasions - with Special Branch Commander Steelforth, who's in charge of G8 security. They clash for a second time after English MP Ben Webster (whose sister is a cop) falls from the ramparts of Edinburgh Castle, while attending a dinner for a bunch of bigwigs including an arms dealer. Officials claim suicide, but Rebus suspects murder. Siobhan's responsibility for the Clootie Well case - which soon looks like the work of a vigilante serial killer - is complicated by her parents' participation in the protests. She's jealous over their friendship with Santal, a fellow demonstrator her own age, and then enraged when her mother is badly injured during a riot. As obsessive as her mentor, Siobhan becomes determined to find the perpetrator of what surely must be police brutality.

And, if all of this - and the overburdened city being almost at a standstill - were not enough, when the rapist was killed, he was working for Rebus' nemesis. Crime boss Morris Gerald Cafferty - who has his own sources in the police, and has a disturbing affinity for Rebus - takes an interest in the investigation, supplies information, and attempts to manipulate both officers. Big Ger's in a turf war with a surprising competitor and - as always - will do whatever it takes to win. The once badly bitten Rebus is wary, but Siobhan ends up crossing a line, an action that's bound to come back to haunt her. There's a lot going on in The Naming of the Dead (whose title comes from the protestors' reading names of a thousand victims on all sides of the warfare in Iraq) but before it ends, the author masterfully ties off every strand of his complex, twisting plot - except for one.

As a long-time follower of the series, I appreciated the exposure to Siobhan's backstory and motivation for joining the police and, as always, enjoyed the banter between Rebus and Siobhan as when he threatens to cite her with insubordination and she comes back with, 'And give the chiefs a good laugh?' Rankin fans will delight in this eighteenth John Rebus novel.

Audiobook review by Mary Ann Smyth:

Ian Rankin's series featuring Inspector John Rebus of the Edinburgh police force continues with The Naming of the Dead. All hands are out to provide security at the G8 summit that leaders of the free world will attend except for John Rebus, who is instructed to hold down the fort. Which, of course, does not sit well with him. Rebus feels that nearing retirement is no reason for him to slack off.

Things heat up a bit when a delegate falls to his death from Edinburgh Castle, seemingly a suicide. The delegate's mother had been murdered in a break-in at her home and his father never recovered from his loss. Was this man murdered or was it truly a suicide? This is where things get tricky and you must pay attention to the wonderfully gravely voice on the CD. James Gale reads this exciting novel in a Scottish accent that would fool his own mother. He also uses slightly different accents for other characters that bring the scenes to life.

The clashes between Rebus and Special Branch Commander Steelforth are brilliantly portrayed by Gale. One can envision throbbing veins and reddened faces as they both try to hold their tempers in check. When Rebus declares that the delegate's death was murder, his sidekick Sergeant Siobhan Clarke enters the scene and works with him to prove what is, at that point, just a theory.

The Naming of the Dead has a convoluted plot whose many twists and turns are made more suspenseful by Gale's narration. Ian Rankin has produced another page turner that is very hard to put down - or in the case of the audiobook - pause playing.

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