I had to review these two together. For a start I read them one after the other. It’s a bit of a new kid on the block versus an old favourite kind of moment. James Oswald’s Natural Causes actually inspired me to read Standing in Another Man’s Grave. In fact it made me crave it. It reminded me how much I loved the early Rebus novels of Ian Rankin and made me desperate to read this latest one.
First, Natural Causes. Again this was recommended by the Penguin Readarama here. Inspector Maclean reminded me a bit of Rebus, although he is much more sanitized, much more focused on his job and not so much of an alcoholic. The storyline and the setting reminded me of a time when Ian Rankin was king in my reading tastes. I’ve said it before on here, and I will say it again: in terms of a modern series of detective novels, I have never yet managed to find anything that matches up for me to the wonder and intricate detail of Rebus. Nothing has come close to Ian Rankin’s famous detective to be honest, not even other detectives created by Rankin himself. Maclean, Oswald’s creation, shares a city (Edinburgh), a rank (DI) and a serial killer plot line. Then he goes elsewhere with it. There’s a slight hint of the supernatural. Not so you’d shy away from this book but it is there nonetheless. Natural Causes was a good read, but it just wasn’t Rebus, and it made me hanker after the gnarled old detective.
So next on my to read pile, and another birthday present, was Rankin himself with the book in which Rebus returns, following his retirement from the force in Exit Music. Standing in Another Man’s Grave did not let me down. Rebus was as I remembered him. Rankin’s beautiful writing was as I remembered it. Oh how I have missed reading about this detective. Of course, here he is retired, working in a cold cases unit, but soon a case rears its head in connection to one of his and he’s back with old friend Siobhan Clarke (now a DI herself) investigating. I loved this book. So much so that I immediately started reading The Complaints the moment I finished this. However, I’ve stalled with that one in the early stages. Fox, the main character just doesn’t live up to Rebus for me.
Well, I seem to have praised my old favourite enough. Both good books, one just liked more personally because it features a character I have enjoyed so much over the past eight years.
So, 7/10 for Natural Causes. 8/10 for Standing in Another Man’s Grave. Ian Rankin seems to make me feel inspired to write my own detective novel, but whether that will ever happen, who knows!