cover image Westwind


Ian Rankin. Little, Brown, $27 (304p) ISBN 978-0-316-49792-3

First published in 1990 and long out of print, this sophomoric thriller from bestseller Rankin (the John Rebus series) opens at a ground tracking station in England, where technician Paul Vincent notices that Zephyr, Britain’s latest spy satellite, has gone offline. In the U.S., the space shuttle Argos crashes, killing everyone aboard except for a British astronaut, Maj. Mike Dreyfuss. Could there be a connection? To keep the Zephyr fiasco quiet, the Brits seclude Vincent in a hospital, where he’s soon on his deathbed; he manages a final utterance to his friend Martin Hepton: “Argos.” Hepton subsequently realizes he’s being followed and his life is in danger. Meanwhile, Dreyfuss is recovering in a hospital in the States, but is also being kept out of the public eye. Decent prose doesn’t compensate for poor plotting. In a preface, Rankin admits the novel had problems, but finds some resonance with current events. That’s a thin and unconvincing justification for this reissue, which does the author’s reputation no favors. This one’s strictly for Rankin completists. [em]Agent: Dominick Abel, Dominick Abel Literary. (Jan.) [/em]