If you like crime fiction, you will enjoy the latest Ian Rankin thriller, Black & Blue (Orion), whose title is taken from the Rolling Stones album of the same name. John Rebus, Rankin's police detective, seems at the outset just another cop-story protagonist: an alcoholic maverick determined to go it alone to find the truth and catch the killer. But in Rebus's search for a serial killer called Bible John, he changes from a self-destructive lone wolf to a man struggling with his own demons and, by the end of the book, he seems to succeed.
The story is centred in Edinburgh, but the action shifts to Glasgow, then to Aberdeen, and finally to a huge oil terminal in the North Sea, where Rebus learns more than he ever wanted to know about "debutanizing, de-ethanizing and depropanizing, not to mention surge tanks and integrity meters. Wouldn't it be great, he thought, if you could fit integrity meters to human beings." There are several good strong female characters—always a relief from the woman as victim or sex object so common in crime fiction—and the few gory scenes don't involve women. (I've stopped reading books that give detailed descriptions of women being murdered.)
By the end of the book, Rebus has mellowed some and you get the feeling he may even give A.A. a chance. I hope he doesn't become a goody-goody, but I'm looking forward to the next Rebus book to see if he is still on the wagon.