Alice O’Keeffe, Books Editor at The Bookseller, said: “Our shortlists this year took the judges from Georgian London to the Second World War to contemporary New York. There are books from exciting fresh voices at the very start of their career, contrasted with books from with well-established brand authors at the top of their game. These are the books that sum up 2018 but which, we think, will be read for years to come.”
Ian Rankin is on top form in In a House of Lies, but I’m not sure his detective is. Rebus doesn’t require help from new characters. His usual entourage — including his former sidekick DI Siobhan Clarke and the semi-sympathetic gangster godfather “Big Ger” Cafferty — is back. Four 11-year-old boys discover an abandoned car with the body of a private detective who disappeared in 2006 inside. It’s a story well told, as one expects from Rankin. My reservation — as with Connelly’s book — is not with the excellence of the author. It is becoming difficult, however, to believe plots in which elderly former cops, without legal powers and no membership of an organisation, go on solving old mysteries.
Rankin’s deft development of his protagonist, evolving in each novel as an onion develops layers, and use of Rebus’s home town, Edinburgh, as a recurring character, makes for strong stuff...Out of this rich stew of characters, and a plot so complex it will elude anything other than total concentration, Rankin crafts one of the great Rebus novels, a vibrant slab of a book as gripping as it is intoxicating.
As ever, Rankin contrives to marry intricate plotting to a narrative that never slackens its pace. He has become a consummate craftsman, his novels put together like pieces of fine furniture. They make for easy reading, but easy reading in this kind of novel is almost always made possible by hard writing. All fiction demands a willingness on the part of the reader to accept conventions and suspend disbelief. Reading a Rankin novel makes this surrender easy. Happily, there is life still in Rebus. The day may come when he works from a wheelchair in an old folks home; there are after all many dark corners of the past to be exposed to the light
How has Rankin kept the series fresh for 22 novels? Deft characterisation. Readers must keep up with a lengthy dramatis personae, but there’s nothing wrong with making us work a little.
Rankin controls the release of vital information with great skill. In a House of Lies is a highly complex procedural that grips from the first sentence. The large cast includes gangster Big Ger Cafferty and — hurrah! — Brillo, his devoted rescue dog. No one in Britain writes better crime novels today.