Bible John killed three women, and took three souvenirs. Johnny Bible killed to steal his namesake’s glory. Oilman Allan Mitchelson died for his principles. And convict Lenny Spaven died just to prove a point. “Bible John” terrorized Glasgow in the sixties and seventies, murdering three women he met in a local ballroom–and he was never caught. Now a copycat is at work. Nicknamed “Bible Johnny” by the media, he is a new menace with violent ambitions.
The Bible Johnny case would be perfect for Inspector John Rebus, but after a run-in with a crooked senior officer, he’s been shunted aside to one of Edinburgh’s toughest suburbs, where he investigates the murder of an off-duty oilman. His investigation takes him north to the oil rigs of Aberdeen, where he meets the Bible Johnny media circus head-on. Suddenly caught in the glare of the television cameras and in the middle of more than one investigation, Rebus must proceed wiht caution: One mistake could mean an unpleasant and not particularly speedy death, or, worse still, losing his job.
Song For This Book: Blame It On the Alcohol by Jamie Foxx
This was not my first attempt at a Rebus book, but it is the first one I successfully got through. A friend of mine loves this series, and loaned me this book in the hopes that it would be better than the first book in the series, which I gave up on within 60 pages. I was a little skeptical about starting on the eighth book of a series, but he said that I would have no trouble keeping up.
That much was true. While there are some things that would have made more sense with knowledge of previous books, I had no trouble figuring out what was going on. A few details got missed, but none of the major plot points. And since the writing is ten thousand times better in this book than in the first of the series, it’s a pretty good trade.
The book itself isn’t anything spectacular. There’s nothing particularly shocking or unique or wonderful about this mystery that sets it apart from any others, though many other Goodreads reviews seem to disagree with me. I didn’t find the story that intriguing, nor were the characters anything to write home about. It was fine, but that’s about it.
The Good Points of Black and Blue:
You know those books that are so easy to read that it doesn’t really feel like you’re reading? Yeah, this book is like that. It’s easy to get into the story and forget that it’s really just words on a page.
Every now and again, we got a small section from Bible John’s perspective, which I absolutely loved. We got to see inside his head and see his side of the story, rather than just that of the protagonist. It made this whole book ten times better, and made the ending much more interesting.
The mystery is pulled together beautifully in the end. At the beginning of this book, it seemed like Rebus was getting caught up in a bunch of things that had a whole lot of nothing to do with anything else that was happening. But somehow, Rankin finds a way to make it all work, and pulls it off very well.
The Downsides of Black and Blue:
The pacing in this book was a joke. It would be fascinating and engaging for a couple of chapters, only to fall completely dead and dull or another six. There was a lot of telling, rather than doing in these slow parts, making it drag on and on. Honestly, I ended up skipping whole sections, just to find something that made me want to continue reading this book.
There was no need for 98% of the drinking scenes and conversations in this book. Yes, we know Rebus is an alcohol. We know he has a problem. We don’t need to see it on every other page. This book would be half the size if we cut out all the unnecessary pub scenes.
Considering that this is the 8th book in the series, I would have expected more of Rebus’ character. He was rather flat, and there wasn’t a whole lot to him aside from a lot of history. I felt he should have been more developed by this point, which likely would have helped the pacing issue.
All in all, this book was fine. I don’t know if I’ll bother with anymore of them, because this one didn’t leave me with any motivation to go seek out the next. But my friend loves them, so they may end up in my hands whether I like it or not. We’ll just have to see.
Have you read Black and Blue? Are you on Team This-Book-Rocks, or Team I’m-Not-Impressed? Let me know, because I’m really curious to hear some more thoughts on this one!