The Falls by Ian Rankin

‘The Falls’ is the 12th book in Ian Rankin’s Rebus series and I’ve enjoyed this book much more than the previous one. The book focuses on one case this time, rather than multiple cases merging together as has been the case in some previous novels.

The story starts with the disappearance of 20 year old student – Philippa Balfour (Flip). Normally this wouldn’t make its way to CID, but her family is wealthy and influential enough to ensure that her disappearance is investigate at the highest levels.

Rebus and his team find very little to go on. A small, handmade wooden coffin and doll are found near Philippa’s family home and an e-mailed clue for a treasure hunt game is received on Philippa’s  computer from someone known only as Quizmaster.

DC Siobhan Clarke follows up on the treasure hunt lead by playing the game herself. With suspicions that the treasure hunt may have been responsible for Philippa’s disappearance, everyone is concerned for Siobhan’s safety as she races to solve each clue before the deadline.

Meanwhile, Rebus discovers that wooden coffins have been found in the past, and they were near sites where young women were found dead or had disappeared. So he looks into the past deaths and disappearances to try to discover a link to his case. A curator from the museum – Jean Burchill assists by looking into the history of the small wooden coffins, and Jean and Rebus start a relationship.

Then Philippa’s body is found, and the missing person’s investigation turns into a murder investigation.

Gradually the team closes in on both Quizmaster and the coffin maker and lives are placed in danger in the search for the culprits.

Meanwhile, the office politics continue. Farmer Watson has retired and Gill Templar has taken his place. There is much jockeying for the coveted position of media liaison officer, with casualties along the way. And, Siobhan will soon need to decide whether she is following police rules or Rebus’s rules.


After struggling with the previous novel – ‘Set in Darkness’, I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Ian Rankin at his best. I’m looking forward to reading the next in the series – ‘Resurrection Men’ (which should be pretty good having won an Edgar award).


Book Published 2001


See a full list of books by Ian Rankin

Leave a Comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Crime, Detective, Rankin, Ian, Series Fiction, Thriller

Comments are closed.