Review – ‘Rather Be The Devil’ by Ian Rankin (@Beathigh)


Wining and dining Deborah Quant at the Caledonia Hotel, Rebus begins to regale her of the tale of actress Marie Turquand who was found murdered in one of the hotel rooms back in the 1970’s. Fascinated by the facts of the unsolved cold case and in spite of his retirement from the force, Rebus decides to take another look at it. If nothing else it will provide welcome distraction from his ongoing health concerns, ones which he is hiding even from Deborah.

Meanwhile, DI Siobhan Clarke is assigned the case of an attack on Darryl Christie, the young pretender who has stepped in to fill the empty shoes of Big Ger Cafferty. In what seems like a case of escalating violence against Christie and his family, Clarke needs to find the guilty party in an ever growing list of suspects, headed by none other than Cafferty himself. But unfortunately for DI Clarke, someone over in the Serious & Organized Crime team wants a piece of Christie too, and soon Malcom Fox is sent back to Edinburgh to keep an eye on her investigation, forcing a partnership that neither of them is overly thrilled about.

When Rebus begins to make enquiries about the night Marie Turquand was killed, he soon ruffles some feather. When someone closely linked to the Turquand is found murdered, and a suspect in Christie’s assault goes missing, Rebus is soon slap bang back in the middle of both investigations. But nothing is quite as it seems in either case and Rebus and the team will find themselves up against some very dangerous men who will stop at nothing to get payback and stake their claim to the city.

What can you say that hasn’t already been said about this series? When I got the chance to get a preview copy of this, I was ecstatic. All of the Rebus books are pure class, and ‘Rather Be The Devil’ is no exception. Despite no longer being part of the establishment, Rebus doesn’t let it stop him from getting into the middle of the investigations. In fact he seems to take greater liberties, hiding behind his civilian status to get away with things that would be unthinkable if he was still with Police Scotland. And that is part of his absolute charm. He has always skirted around the law while still maintaining an overwhelming sense of justice. Rebus style.

Rankin still captures Rebus’s roguish charm to a tee. His appeal hasn’t diminished with age, if anything he grows on me more with each book, although the side effects of a life lived hard are starting to show through. He’s getting older, perhaps slowing down a little and showing his age. Years of drinking and smoking are taking their toll and he feels his body slowly letting him down. And yet his mind is sharp as a tack and nothing passes him by. His laid back demeanour hides the true passion that you know brims just below the surface and it’s always a joy when it slips out, even if for just the shortest time. It is, after all, his canny nature which is part of his greatest appeal.

‘Rather Be The Devil’ has everything you want from a Rebus novel and then some. The dynamic between the team, Rebus, Clarke and Fox, is brilliant, full of humour, and the blend of personalities is perfect. As for Rebus and Big Ger, the two continue to circle around one another, a certain kind of respect and understanding of each other which still sees them on two different sides of the same coin.

It sucked me in right from the off and if I hadn’t had to go to work, I would have whizzed through this in a day. The plot is complex and twisted, with so many sharp edges that keep jabbing at your attention. There isn’t a single wasted page, every passage adding another dimension to a delightfully crisp plot. You will guess and second guess who is really doing what, but it is all wrapped up beautifully at the end. And for once it is not just Rebus who finds himself in a compromised position.

If you are a fan of the Rebus series, this will not disappoint. Rebus may be getting older, but I’m hoping that having been granted a temporary reprieve, that he will be around for a good while yet.  Edinburgh wouldn’t be the same without him.

An undeniably classic Rebus tale. 5 stars.


I reviewed an advance copy of ’Rather Be The Devil’ provided by NetGalley and Orion Publishing Group.

‘Rather Be The Devil’ is released on 3rd November in the UK and is available to order here. It is released on 31st January in the US and is available here.

10 thoughts on “Review – ‘Rather Be The Devil’ by Ian Rankin (@Beathigh)

    1. Thank you. I love this series. Only started it myself a few months back so I’ve been a on major book binge to catch up. Thank heavens for audio books and long car journeys. Don’t regret a moment though.

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  1. great review! I’ve heard such good things about Ian Rankin’s books and I haven’t read any yet. Would you say it’s necessary to read these in order? Sometimes with series you can jump in anywhere.


    1. I must admit I jumped about a bit on this series in terms of playing catch up. You would need to have read at least some of the preceding books for some of the characters to make sense although you do get enough of a flavour of their relationships in each to get by. This could be read on its own but you’d understand the history between Rebus and Big Ger, and Clarke and Fox better if you’ve read the other books.

      And why miss the fun of thirty years of Rebus. He’s a great character to spend time with.

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      1. I’m discovering so many series I’m interested in reading since I started blogging!:) Ian Rankin and Peter James are the 2 I really want to try. I just downloaded Peter’s first book in the Roy Grace series. I may turn to audiobooks to catch up on john rebus. Thanks for the info


      2. I know that feeling well. I pretty much took a twenty year break from reading so I’ve missed a lot. I got through the first few Rebus books via audio book. Was a great escape. It’s only really this year I’ve got back into my stride on reading and blogging really does open up the opportunities to discover new series and authors. I need a lottery win so I can go full time on it, but I still wouldn’t make a dent in my reading wish list. Happy reading 🙂

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      3. That’s a long reading break! I’m heading to my library’s website shortly and check on the audiobook availability. I love them as long as the narrator is good


      4. That’s goof to know, My library has several but not all so I was able to get Naming of the Dead…I figured I’ll just start in 2006 and conti ue from there. I have a 2 hour drive tomorrow so perfect timing. Thanks for chatting and the suggestions


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