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A Song for the Dark Times Reviews

A Song for the Dark Times by Ian Rankin

A Song for the Dark Times: The Brand New Must-Read Rebus Thriller

Ian Rankin

4.44 out of 5

7 reviews

Imprint: Orion (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd )
Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
Publication date: 1 Oct 2020
ISBN: 9781409176978

From the iconic Number One bestseller Ian Rankin, comes one of the must-read books of the year: A SONG FOR THE DARK TIMES.

1 Prize for A Song for the Dark Times

The British Book Awards
2021 Shortlist: Crime & Thriller Book of the Year

Philip Jones, editor of The Bookseller and chair of the British Book Awards judges, said: “From Shuggie Bain to The Thursday Murder Club, from All the Lonely People to The Danger Gang, from Hamnet to Black and British, these were the books that answered the call during this period of turmoil, debate and hope.” 


4 stars out of 5
Alison Flood
2 Nov 2020

"It is always good to be back in Rebus’s company, even more so with Rankin slipping in various hints as to his eventual demise"

It is always good to be back in Rebus’s company, even more so with Rankin slipping in various hints as to his eventual demise: “John says he wants it put on his gravestone, ‘He listened to the B-sides,” says Siobhan.

4 stars out of 5
Geoffrey Wansell
29 Oct 2020

"John Rebus grows ever more compelling"

Like a fine single-malt whisky, Rankin grows better with time, just as his ageless detective John Rebus grows ever more compelling...

Famously not the most attentive father, Rebus nevertheless sets off for the rugged north coast of Scotland to discover what has happened.

But when Keith is discovered murdered in what was once a wartime internment camp, Samantha becomes a prime suspect. To prove she is innocent, Rebus will have to unravel the tangled web of lies told by the locals and overcome a landowner’s objections to anyone poking their nose into other people’s business.

5 stars out of 5
Barry Forshaw
27 Oct 2020

"this is vintage Rankin — which is to say, the best that the crime genre can currently offer"

Rankin takes us into a close-knit local commune, the characterisation of which alone is worth the price of admission. But back in Edinburgh, Rebus’s ex-colleague Siobhan Clarke is investigating the death of a 23-year-old Saudi, and with such familiar figures as the gangster Gerry Cafferty and the unsparing detective Malcolm Fox in the mix, this is vintage Rankin — which is to say, the best that the crime genre can currently offer.

4 stars out of 5
17 Oct 2020

"I can’t wait to see how Rebus deals with Covid and Brexit"

‘I’ve learned that coincidences are as rare as unicorns,’ Rebus observes around half way through. This must surely be taken as ironic, since it’s coincidence that binds together the two strands of the plot. Not that it matters in the slightest. As in so much good crime fiction, the crimes in this novel are, in a sense, incidental. Fans of the series, of which I’m one, are mainly interested in the ever grumpier, ever more decaying Rebus, in the pleasingly nuanced characters, and in Rankin’s wry slant on the world around us. 

4 stars out of 5
Joan Smith
11 Oct 2020

"Rankin’s affection for his character is undimmed"

Rankin’s irascible detective John Rebus retired a long time ago and his years as an old-school cop are catching up with him. opens with Rebus moving to a ground-floor flat, no longer able to cope with stairs because of his lung damage. There’s an elegiac feel to the novel: Rebus has been divorced for years, his ex-wife is dead and he’s not on great terms with his only daughter, Samantha...

Rankin’s affection for his character is undimmed, even as he writes with candour about his failures as a father.

4 stars out of 5
Stuart Kelly
3 Oct 2020

"The denouement is very satisfying"

It is a cardinal rule not to reveal the ending when reviewing crime fiction. The denouement is very satisfying, and there is something between a twist and a cliff-hanger. Suffice it to say that when I ran the hypotheticals there are multiple possible strands for the next book. A pity we will have to wait a year for it.

  • The TimesThriller Book of the Month
5 stars out of 5
Mark Sanderson
29 Sep 2020

"Only great novels capture the spirit of the age. This is one of them"

Ian Rankin’s genius for creating a complex double plot, even after more than 30 novels, remains undiminished. Rebus, who always used to tell Clarke that “the simple explanation usually turns out to be the right one”, is determined to protect his child from prosecution, even if she is involved in her husband’s disappearance. Could the man’s research into a nearby Second World War internment camp provide an answer? In both cases the usual suspects — money, love, jealousy and hate — play key roles.