Blood Hunt, Edgar Award winner Ian Rankin’s novel about former SAS commando Gordon Reeve succeeds in being a good read in spite of itself. Rankin is a better writer than this novel reveals but seemingly he is not above producing something for the pulp mill occasionally. Blood Hunt reads like a Jackie Chan movie: If the location and nationality were changed it would make a great Jackie Chan movie.

The whole plot line centers around Gordon Reeve avenging his brother Jim’s death. To say the steps involved between the report of Jim’s suicide and the discovery that he was murdered are perfunctory would barely do credit to the predictability of Rankin’s storyline. See if any of this sounds familiar to you:

Man discovers his brother has been murdered.
Man discovers secret powerful forces are behind the murder.
Man sends his family off to some relative to be safe.
Secret powerful forces control police and maybe the media.
Man decides to take on secret powerful forces and wins.

You’ve seen it a thousand times and it can be interesting when done right. The problem is that when a story is so devoid of passion and the elements of the story are completely without surprise it become difficult to maintain the reader’s interest. The sole saving grace is Rankin’s smooth descriptive prose and his ability to breath life into even bit players in the story.

There is very little mystery to this mystery. What little mystery there is, is telegraphed from the very beginning of the story. What holds the reader through the 385 pages of Blood Hunt is Gordon Reeve – we like him, we care about him, we want him to win and ultimately we are afraid of him. Blood Hunt is a decent summer read when you are out by the pool but not for the library of a serious mystery fan.

Buy Blood Hunt
Ian Rankin
400 pages
Little, Brown 2006

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