Socialist Worker

Ian Rankin's The Naming of the Dead - Murder mystery at Edinburgh's G8 protest

by Paul Murphy
Issue No. 2065

Naming of the Dead cover

Naming of the Dead cover

The penultimate Inspector Rebus crime thriller, The Naming of the Dead, is set in Edinburgh and Gleneagles during the week of protests at the G8 summit in early July 2005, when the enormous Make Poverty History (MPH) march took place.

On the brink of retirement, Detective Inspector John Rebus is a careworn outsider within police ranks, long departed from a successful career path.

A somewhat off-message politician tumbles from the ramparts of Edinburgh Castle on the eve of the G8 summit.

Then the body of an ex-con is found, bludgeoned and injected with pure heroin, subsequently linked to two similar victims. All three have served time for rape.

Rebus and Clarke pursue a case shunned not only by the top cops busy protecting George Bush and Tony Blair, but also by those who thought the victims “had it coming”.

The Naming of the Dead succeeds brilliantly. Rankin, who was on the MPH march, shows sharp political insight into all actors, big and small – a politician, an arms dealer, a charismatic left wing councillor, as well as the movement itself and the individuals within it. Their perspectives differ with their social positions and credibly reinforce how they act.

But the strongest aspect of the book is the fact that Ian Rankin has thoroughly documented all aspects of the protests. Live8, G8 Alternatives, the Craigmillar campsite, the police riot, Stop the War, the naming of the dead on Calton Hill – they’re all there.

The Naming of the Dead thus comprises a full record of a key event for our movement, integrated with crime fiction of the highest standard.

It is dedicated “to everyone who was in Edinburgh on 2 July 2005”. Even if you weren’t, you and future generations can find out just what it was like – while being unable to put down this superb murder mystery.

The Naming of the Dead
by Ian Rankin
Orion £6.99
out now in paperback

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Article information

Tue 21 Aug 2007, 19:11 BST
Issue No. 2065
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