A spectacularly savage opening gives way to a rather undercooked mystery in Mortal Causes, the sixth Rebus novel. Immensely readable as always, this time round the plot lacks some of the panache and the wonderful characterisation that defined and elevated Rankin’s earlier novels.
With sectarian violence as the backdrop, Mortal Causes spotlights Rebus’s investigation into the death of a man tortured and executed in an underground medieval cellar. His only cluses are a tattoo on the corpse’s wrist and a cryptic inscription scratched in the dirt – but as he digs deeper he discovers a connection to Edinburgh’s criminal kingpin, Cafferty, and a diabolical terrorist plot. Meanwhile, Rebus’ relationship with his girlfriend Patience continues to sputter along, although the introduction of a psychotic, jealous and obsessive woman adds a bit of drama to the mix – though this plotline never really goes anywhere, and unfortunately peters out.
There are the requisite twists and turns, and Rebus’ investigations leads to a frenzied climax that’ll have readers hurriedly turning the pages — but it’s not a Rebus novel that’ll live long in the memory. Mortal Causes is a solid, functional procedural, but far from Rankin’s unsurpassable best.
Imprint: Orion (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd )
Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
Publish Date: 7-Aug-2008
Country of Publication: United Kingdom