Monday, July 14, 2008

Guest Blog--Blood Hunt by Ian Rankin

In the early 1990s when Ian Rankin was just beginning to find success with his series of novels about John Rebus, he wrote three other novels under the name of Jack Harvey. One of those novels was Blood Hunt (1995).

In March 2006, the book was released again under Rankin’s name. Last Christmas a friend added a postscript to the family greeting, telling me that his favorite mystery of 2007 was this book. Of course, I immediately checked for it and discovered that it was not even available at that time through It was released in the UK and Canada before it was in the United States.

At first I was a little leery about reading the book because I have never read any of the Rebus mysteries and have not watched the TV show when it has been shown on BBC America. When I picked Blood Hunt up at the library, I was pleased to discover that this was a mystery that stood on its own with a character who does not appear in any of the other Rankin stories.

Rankin wrote Blood Hunt during a period when there was even more concern over BSE (mad cow disease) in the UK. Questions arose about the real cause of the disease and whether other diseases were related to chemicals used in the production of food.

Rankin took the real-life concern over the safety of our food and environment and created Jim Reeve, a journalist, who was determined to expose the conspiracy between governments and large chemical corporations. Reeve’s sudden death looks like a suicide, but when his brother flies to the San Diego to bring his body back to the UK for burial, something doesn’t feel right.

Gordon Reeve is a retired SAS soldier who fought during the British-Argentine conflict over the Falklands. Now he does weekend training for bodyguards or survivalist wannabes. As he begins to ask questions and looks into his brother’s latest research, Gordon discovers that someone has become very interested in him.

Part of the interest for me was related to the fact that I have a son who is a Marine currently serving in Iraq. Rankin describes some of the same types of training that our son has had in the Marine Corps. For example, Rankin talks about learning to lie hidden for hours without moving a muscle so that Reeve will not be discovered or running long distances carrying gear and a rifle. Reeve calls upon his military training and the physical discipline that he learned years ago as a Special Forces soldier in order to survive as his enemies attempt to eliminate him as they have his brother.

The story moves quickly, and I discovered when the book ended that I had become very attached to this ruthless warrior. I wasn’t quite ready to give him up to the closed pages of my novel. Maybe I am discovering a darker side of myself as I try reading some different writers. And maybe I’ll have to try reading some of Rankin’s Rebus novels.

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