Saints of the Shadow Bible by Ian Rankin

bloody scotlandI enjoy Ian Rankin’s books. It was my sister who introduced my mother to his work many years ago. In turn, my mother lent Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin to me and the rest is history. I think I have read every book he has written, whether as Jack Harvey or in his own name and some of his books are reviewed on this site include: The Impossible Dead, and Complaints Rankin is a leading proponant of the Scottish Tartan Noir genre and will be attending the Bloody Scotland Festival in Stirling next month. I admit I prefer his John Rebus books to those based on his Malcolm Fox character.

Saints of the Shadow Bible includes both characters and I really did enjoy the book. The premise that combines them is that Rebus is back on the force, demoted to sergeant and a with chip on his shoulder and Malcolm Fox, in what will be his last case as an internal affairs cop, is tasked with finding out the truth about a case from 30 years ago. It is a case where the team that Rebus was a member of, in his early years on the force, is suspected of having helped a murderer escape justice. The team was known amongst themselves as the Saints of the Shadow Bible.shadow bible

Rebus is investigating a car accident when he learns the news of Fox’s investigation. The stage is set for past and present to collide in shocking and murderous fashion.

The reader is kept guess as to what Rebus might have to hide. Also, at times it is not clear whose side he is really on. His colleagues from the early days back then called themselves “The Saints”. They swore a bond on something called the Shadow Bible. However, rules of the force are tighter now and the crimes of the past may not stay hidden much longer. Rankin puts Rebus to work with former enemy, Fox, as the force changes yet again, and then he ties everything together effortlessly in true Rankin fashion. The backdrop of Edinburgh plays its usual gritty part.

The story is set in Scotland as the country gears up for a referendum on independence and the devisive background of that election aptly echoes the devisive investigation Rebus is caught up in. Rankin has crafted a brilliant crime novel with interesting threads of shady scrapyards, new crime lords, and the murder of a minister.

IanRankinIan Rankin now lives in Edinburgh but was born some mile North of there in the Kingdom of Fife in 1960. He graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1982 and then spent three years writing novels when he was supposed to be working towards a PhD in Scottish Literature. That first Rebus novel, Knots and Crosses was published in 1987; the Rebus books are now translated into 22 languages and are bestsellers on several continents. He also kindly donates signed novels as prizes each year to the West Kilbride Charity Supper Dance my friends Jane, Dawn and I run in aid of Macmillan Cancer Care. Have a look at my site: However, the author’s generosity does not colour my reviews. I thoroughly enjoyed Saints of the Shadow Bible and, if you enjoy crime novels, I recommend the book to you.

Valerie Penny



  1. Maureen

    Looking forward to reading this one!


    • Valerie Penny

      If you have any trouble getting hold of this, let me know and I will send you a copy, Maureen.
      Take care, dear.


  2. Good to see Ian Rankin at Bloody Scotland this year.



  1. Bloody Scotland Crime Writers’ Festival 2015 | Valerie Penny's Book Reviews

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: