‘The Naming of the Dead’ is the 16th novel in Ian Rankin’s Rebus series and continues the story of Inspector John Rebus’s gradual decay.
Every police officer in the United Kingdom seems to have been called in to help with policing the G8 summit in Scotland – all except Rebus whose bosses would rather keep him out of sight of the rest of the world. So when Ben Webster, a young politician, falls to his death from Edinburgh Castle, Rebus seems to be the only one around to investigate. The head of SO12 from London doesn’t want Rebus around at all and is prepared to write Webster off as a suicide.
Meanwhile, DS Siobhan Clarke is working on G8 security, she happens across a ‘clootie well’ where clothing of the dead has been displayed in the woods. She recognises an item that was missing from a recent murder and soon establishes that items from two other murders are present. But she faces the same problem as Rebus – the publicity of an investigation may tarnish the G8 summit. No-one is too concerned about the three murdered men since they were all convicted sex offenders. They all appeared on a website called BeastWatch.
This book is about corrupt politics and political manoeuvring for gain. But, mostly it’s about family. Rebus has just buried his brother Michael. Ben Webster’s sister Stacy is an undercover police officer mixing with G8 demonstrators. She is devastated at losing her brother so soon after losing both her parents. Siobhan’s parents are in Scotland to take part in G8 demonstrations – Siobhan’s mother gets injured in a riot. And Ellen Wylie (also working on the murder investigation) lives with her sister Denise who was abused by her husband and is struggling to deal with the mental legacy of this.
And somehow the death of Ben Webster, the three murders, the death of a local man and everyone’s family problems are linked together. And, on top of it all ‘Big Ger’ Cafferty is controlling people like chess pieces, and the heads of G8 security are trying to cover everything up. Then the London bombings add to the confusion.
Rebus and Siobhan do eventually work out what is going on but at a terrible personal cost to both of them.
Once again, this novel was packed full of sub-plots, but they all fitted well together really well making for an enjoyable if slightly complicated read. This story will certainly have repercussions in later books. I’m sure I’ll find out more in the next in the series – ‘Exit Music’.
Book Published 2006