Book Review: IN A HOUSE OF LIES, classic John Rebus

rankin, ian - in a house of lies (3)In a House of Lies
Ian Rankin

A group of boys playing in the woods finds an old VW Polo and is excited about the possibility of treasure inside–until they notice a body in the boot. The body is soon identified as Stuart Bloom, a private investigator who went missing in 2006. Bloom’s parents had criticized the investigation from the beginning, and now that his body was recovered, in an area supposedly searched by the investigative team, they were keen to tell their story once again to the media.

Siobhan Clarke was seconded to the MIT handling Bloom’s murder, while Malcolm Fox was assigned to review how the investigative team handled the original case. As much as John Rebus, our favorite retired detective, wanted in on the investigation, he was a part of the original team, accused of protecting Derek Shankley, Bloom’s boyfriend, and the son of Rebus’s friend DI Alex Shankley of Glasgow, and therefore a suspect.

Meanwhile, Clarke was getting hang up calls and someone defaced her tenement door while Grant Edwards and Brian Steele of Internal Affairs hovered around her hoping for her to make a mistake.

Bloom’s case might finally bring Rebus–and Clarke–down and ultimately drive an immutable wedge between them and Fox, if Rebus and Clarke can’t solve the murder.

I was so excited about the new Rebus book, I ordered it from the UK, and I wasn’t disappointed. In a House of Lies has everything I want in a Rebus mystery: strong writing, a defiant, stick-it-in-your-eye Rebus, time with Brillo, Rebus’s dog, advocating for the underdog, ignoring authority, verbal sparring with Big Ger Cafferty, and a surprising resolution. As in the last few books, Rebus has–slightly–mellowed, and his COPD slows him down, to his neverending frustration. While Rebus has a romance, it (thankfully) doesn’t occupy much space nor does it change or soften Rebus (much).

The book did start a little slow for me, and I think I liked the secondary plot, about possibly wrongly convicted Ellis Meikle more than the primary mystery, but overall, In a House of Lies was a very satisfying Rebus book that hit all the right notes.

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