The Hanging Garden

Ian Rankin, Author St. Martin's Press $24.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-312-19278-5
This sprawling, overloaded mystery from a justly acclaimed and usually very reliable crime author is a disappointment. Through nine previous novels (Black and Blue, 1997, etc.), dogged Edinburgh copper John Rebus has been captivating company--a man willing to place career before family and known to find solace in the bottle as his personal life takes an inevitable pounding. In this latest, Rebus's woes are strictly secondary (even as his daughter Samantha lies in a coma after a hit and run) as unsuspecting Edinburgh is rapidly transformed into the crime capital of the Western world. New hoodlum Tommy Telford is taking over, running whores imported from Eastern Europe, conspiring with Japanese businessmen to buy golf courses and selling drugs from the back of an ice cream van. All this upsets Ger Rafferty, the reigning hoodlum, who's stuck in prison and friendly with Rebus. Rebus makes a deal with Ger to take Telford down. Rebus also gives shelter to a suicidal prostitute and investigates the life and times of Joseph Lintz, a retired academic and alleged Nazi war criminal. A supremely implausible piece of plotting links Lintz to Telford's crowd. The evolution of Scotland's capital city into a gangster-riddled Babylon is bold, but all the canny procedural detail that Rankin is known for is lamentably jettisoned for a train wreck of a novel that aims for cinematic epic mayhem but achieves only narrative chaos instead. Author tour. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/28/1998
Release date: 10/01/1998
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