Ian Rankin Mark Bailey

Review: Rather Be the Devil by Ian Rankin (2016)

Ian Rankin – Rather Be the Devil (2016)

Orion, Hardcover, 320 pages

Published: 3rd November 2016 (UK)

ISBN13: 978-1409159407 (cased)

Rather Be The Devil by Ian Rankin
Rather Be The Devil by Ian Rankin

Rather Be the Devil is the 21st Rebus Novel.

John Rebus is retired once again and his memories are turning to past events and some cases have never left him.

One of those is brought back to him when Rebus is dining out with Deborah Quant. 40 years earlier, beautiful, promiscuous Maria Turquand died in her hotel room at the Caledonian Hotel on the same night that a famous rock star and his entourage were staying there – her killer has never been found. Rebus asks DI Siobhan Clarke to bring him the cold case files so he can do a bit of digging.

Meanwhile, the dark heart of Edinburgh remains up for grabs after Cafferty stood aside. The young pretender, Darryl Christie, has staked his claim but a vicious attack leaves him weakened and vulnerable – a situation exacerbated by an inquiry into a major money laundering scheme. Has Rebus’ old-time foe Big Ger Cafferty really given up the ghost or is he just biding his time until Edinburgh is once more ripe for the picking?


What is nice is how the Rebus novels now have moved from being primarily a solo series to more of an ensemble piece with Rebus, Siobhan Clarke, Malcolm Fox, Deborah Quant, Cafferty and, of course, Edinburgh each getting their turn in the spotlight during the course of the novel.

This is an utterly compelling and gripping read which I read worryingly quickly as you get engrossed in the book by both the characters and the plotlines.

The ending does set up the series for more novels very nicely.


I received a free copy of this book from the publishers on NetGalley.

Adrian McKinty Cath Staincliffe Christopher Fowler Crime Fiction Edmund Crispin Euro Crime Helene Tursten Ian Rankin Jo Nesbø John Harvey Mark Bailey Martin Edwards Peter James Peter Robinson Reviews W J Burley Year-End Review

Year-End Review: 2012

Of the new releases in 2012 (either in paperback or hardback), I would strongly recommend (in alphabetical order by author as I don’t want to choose an order)

  • Fowler, Christopher – BRYANT & MAY AND THE INVISIBLE CODE (10th novel about Arthur Bryant, John May and the Peculiar Crimes Unit – another strong Bryant & May novel with a very intricate plot with lots of twists and turns; some new characters (some of which are almost fantastical) are introduced to set up for the future which he has got a 2 book deal for starting with BRYANT & MAY AND THE BLEEDING HEART).
  • James, Peter – NOT DEAD YET (8th Detective Superintendent Roy Grace novel)
  • Nesbo, Jo – THE BAT (the 1st Harry Hole novel chronologically – it was nice to see the back plot to the later novels explored in more depth)
  • Rankin, Ian – STANDING IN ANOTHER MAN’S GRAVE (Rebus is back – I read it in a day and loved it)
  • Robinson, Peter – BEFORE THE POISON (not a DCI Banks book but it takes the well-used idea of somebody becoming obsessed with solving a decades-old murder and executes it very well)


Other 2012 releases that had good points were

  • McKinty, Adrian – THE COLD COLD GROUND (the 1st Sean Duffy novel set in 1980s Northern Ireland; yes I am biased as I go past most of the places in this novel on my train to work every day but this is an assured police procedural in the main – the next book (I HEAR THE SIRENS IN THE STREET) is just out as I write and if it is just a tad better then that is one of my 2013 best reads sorted)
  • Staincliffe, Cath  – DEAD TO ME  (the 1st Scott and Bailey tie-in novel by Cath Staincliffe; yes this is a tv tie-on but it captures the characters and is compellingly written)
  • Tursten, Helene – NIGHT ROUNDS (the 4th Irene Huss novel; this is a good novel but I have seen the first 6 Swedish TV movie adaptions so I spoilt it for myself).
  • Wanner, Len – THE CRIME INTERVIEWS VOLUMES ONE AND TWO (These are available most easily for Kindles but if you like tartan noir, they are a good insight into how authors minds work as they have interviews with 19 crime writers between the two volumes)


‘Blasts from the past’ series reread or read for the first time in 2012 are

  • Crispin, Edmund – the Gervase Fen series (I re-read these in the Summer. They are whodunit novels with complex plots written in a humorous, literary style with references to English literature, poetry, and music; my favourites are THE MOVING TOYSHOP (1946) and FREQUENT HEARSES (1950) – it is a crying shame that Crispin went 25 years between the penultimate and the last novel in the series).
  • Burley, W J – the Wycliffe series (I remember the tv series with Jack Shepherd well and recently bought them on DVD but had never read the books; yes they are dated and even the later ones read like those written in the 1970s (they were 22 written from 1968 to 2000) but they are also tightly plotted concisely written books with a great sense of place and a complex main character)
  • Edwards, Martin – the Lake District Mystery series (these were a new read for me and as said elsewhere on the website these are very classy page turners with a good sense of history and the area it is set in – the English Lake District)
  • Harvey. John – the Charlie Resnick series (I am just over halfway through re-reading this quality police procedural series set in Nottingham in the late 1980s and 1990s in the main – the last one was published a decade later in 2008)


Again, they reflect in the main my liking for police procedurals.

Adrian McKinty Crime Fiction Euro Crime Helene Tursten Ian Rankin Jo Nesbø Reviews Simon Brett Year-End Review

Year-End Review: 2013

Of the new releases in 2013, I would strongly recommend (in alphabetical order by author as I don’t want to choose an order)

  • Brett, Simon – A DECENT INTERVAL (the 18th of the Charles Paris novels by Simon Brett and the first to be published for 16 years; somewhat darker than before but still a good read)
  • McKinty, Adrian – I HEAR THE SIRENS IN THE STREET (the 2nd Sean Duffy novel set in 1980s Northern Ireland; yes I am biased as I go past most of the places in this novel on my train to work every day and part of this one is set in my village but this is a very assured police procedural with just one more in the series (AND IN THE MORNING I’LL BE GONE) to be published in January 2014)
  • Nesbø, Jo – POLICE & COCKROACHES (both tr. Don Bartlett) (the 10th & 2nd Harry Hole novels chronologically – POLICE carries on from PHANTOM and with COCKROACHES it was once again nice to see the back plot to the later novels explored in more depth)
  • Rankin, Ian – SAINTS OF THE SHADOW BIBLE (Rebus is back on the force, older but not wiser – demoted back to his 1987 rank so he could return with Siobhan Clarke as his boss)
  • Tursten, Helene – THE GOLDEN CALF (tr. Laura A. Wideburg) (the 5th Irene Huss novel in the series and to be translated into English; a fairly conventional police procedural with a likeable main character, well plotted with a good core idea and excellently realised characters who interact with one another realistically and are likeable).