Let It Bleed by Ian Rankin

Ian Rankin’s 7th Rebus novel ‘Let It Bleed’ starts with a dramatic car chase. A pair of teenage boys, demanding a ransom for the return of a councillor’s daughter, are cornered and decide that suicide is the only way out. This is followed by another suicide – a man recently released from prison blows his head off with a shotgun in front of another councillor. And, with Rebus’s boss, Lauderdale, in hospital, Rebus is even more of a ‘loose cannon’ then usual.

As soon as Rebus starts to investigate the deaths, he starts to smell corruption at all levels of government and those in high places do their best to discourage his investigation. An old flame of Rebus’s – Gill Templer, is standing in for Lauderdale as Rebus’s boss. She wants to create the best impression with her superiors, so is no help at all in backing up Rebus.

Meanwhile, Rebus’s life continues its gradual disintegration. He is living in his own flat which is falling apart around him. His relationship with his recent girlfriend – Patience, has completely fallen apart. He has one visit to her flat in this book with disastrous consequences. And, his alcohol consumption is continuing to increase and is now at the point where he regularly leaves the stench of stale alcohol in his wake. His health is really beginning to suffer.

But, despite his personal problems, Rebus still has the perceptiveness and tenacity to get to the bottom of any crime without worrying about the opinion of his superiors. His only backup in this novel is his two devoted side-kicks, Brian Holmes and Siobhan Clarke.


This was an excellently paced novel, set in an incredibly bleak atmosphere – Scottish winter, corruption everywhere, and Rebus’s life falling apart. The next in the series , which I hope to read soon is ‘Black and Blue’.


Book Published 1995


See a full list of books by Ian Rankin

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