Book twelve: The Falls by Ian Rankin

My twelfth book of the year is also the twelfth in Ian Rankin's Rebus series. The Falls is one of the most enjoyable in the series despite the fact that the book doesn't attempt to tackle any of the social issues which made previous volumes so intriguing. This Rankin settles for a fairly straigtforward puzzle. A young student has disappeared and the only suspect is her boyfriend. When a tiny coffin containing a doll is found close to the student's home, Rebus is drawn into a mystery that seems to stretch back to the Arthur's Seat coffins, found in Edinburgh in 1836. Rankin confidently mixes his own fictional mysery with the real-life riddle of the coffins and the theory that they were placed as a memorial to the victims of serial killers Burke and Hare.

Meanwhile, Siobhan Clarke has to deal with a more contemporary problem. The missing girl was playing what the jacket blurb describes as "an internet roleplaying game". I feared the worst when I read that, expecting internet-related clangers a-plenty, but in fact the game is just a treasure hunt in which the clues are sent by email. There are no real howlers, save perhaps for the needlessly drawn-out process of tracing the email account sending the messages.

How the treasure hunt and the coffins are connected is anybody's guess and Rankin allows the mystery to unravel slowly but at a compelling pace. The ending is something of an anticlimax but that's often a problem with a really tautly constructed puzzle such as this.

The weakness in the book is, as with previous Rankin novels, the reliance on cliches. Rebus is suspended from duty yet again, though this time it happens in a way that adds an interesting aspect to his character. Somewhat implausibly however, his suspension seems not to affect his participation in the investigation.

A good read though and, helpfully for my purposes, a very quick one.