As a former soldier, Gordon Reeve knows something about killing. So despite the fact that the death of his brother Jim has been ruled a suicide, Gordon can't shake the feeling that someone is responsible. Traveling alone across an ocean, he arrives in California determined to get answers: Why was the car Jim's body was found in locked from the outside? Who would want Jim dead? And now why do the local cops seem bent on thwarting Gordon's efforts to uncover the truth?
With all the verve and taut pacing that have made Ian Rankin an internationally renowned suspense writer, Blood Hunt is a gripping story of one man's dogged pursuit of justice.
Admirers of Edgar-winner Rankin's bestselling series featuring Edinburgh's Insp. John Rebus (Fleshmarket Alley, etc.) may be disappointed by this stand-alone suspense novel, which has more in common with the works of Frederick Forsyth and Robert Ludlum. Gordon Reeve, an ex-Special Forces soldier with serious anger management issues, has settled down to a tranquil second career running a survival camp in a remote part of Scotland. When he learns that his journalist brother, Jim, with whom he hadn't been close for years, has shot himself in California, Reeve resolves to seek answers. Once in the U.S., Reeve begins to suspect that his brother was murdered because of an investigative piece he was working on involving a major chemical company. But that Grisham-like plot is soon made secondary to a game of cat and mouse Reeve plays with a deranged former military colleague, leading to an anticlimactic and predictable ending. Rankin's gifts as a writer will have many quickly turning the pages, but longtime fans will hope for a return to form in his next outing. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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Posted May 09, 2009 by Nancy S. , HopatcongI love Ian Rankin's writing, and this book was the first one I read outside the Inspector Rebus series. I could only hope I would love it as much as the Rebus ones, and as it turns out I did. The US setting didn't even put me off (as I love his portrayal of Scotland in other books). I literally didn't want to put this down until I'd finished it.
Little, Brown and Company
October 01, 2006
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Excerpt from Blood Hunt by Ian Rankin
HE STOOD ON THE EDGE of the abyss, staring down.
Not afraid, not feeling anything very much except the burning in his lungs, the damp ache behind his legs. He knew staring was never a one-way thing. It was reciprocal. Okay, he thought, get your staring finished, get it over and done with now. The fall, he thought--it isn't the fall that kills you, it's the ground at the end of it. It's gravity, the fatal pull of the planet. There was water at the bottom of the chasm, the tide rising, foam churning against the sheer sides. He could hear the water, but in what was left of the daylight he could barely see it.
He took a deep breath at last and drew back, stretching his spine. There was an hour left till dusk: not much time. They wouldn't find him now. He'd had one piece of luck about seventy-five minutes ago, but reckoned he was allowed one lucky break per mission.
At least they were quiet now, his pursuers. They weren't yelling ill-considered commands back and forth, their words carrying on the sweet, still air all the way to where he lay listening. And they'd split into two-man patrols: also well-learned. He wondered whose idea that had been. They would know by now that time was against them, know too that they were tired, cold, and hungry. They'd give up before he did.
That was the edge he had on them. Not a physical edge--some of them were younger, fitter, stronger than him--but a psychological one. The sharpest edge there was.
He looked up and listened, breathed in the wet bracken, the small dull buds, the charged air. There were thunderclouds in the distance, moving farther away. A torrent of rain had swept the land yet again. There was nothing worse for the spirits than a periodical drenching. Their spirits, not his. They weren't within a mile of him. They weren't anywhere close. None of them would be blooded today.
He checked himself. Overconfidence. It had to be avoided. The most dangerous part of a mission, any mission, was the last part--those final few hours, or minutes, or even seconds. Your brain starts winding down, your tired body doing the same. And you start to make mistakes. He shook his head roughly, feeling the pain across his shoulders. He was carrying seventy-five pounds, which would have been nothing five or ten years before--he'd carried double that in the Falklands; some Special Air Service missions in the Gulf War had carried even more--but now he'd been carrying the rucksack for thirty-six hours, and the pack was wet and heavy.
He set off again after checking his map, walking backwards through the mud, sometimes circling so he crossed over his own tracks. He took a pride in all this confusion--a confusion his pursuers probably wouldn't even notice. They had, perhaps, turned back already. But this wasn't about them at all. It was about him. He'd never doubted it for a moment.
He started to climb again, with his back to the ground, heels pushing into the soil, his rucksack transferred to his chest. Near the top of the ridge he paused, listened, and heard a sound he could identify all too easily: paper tearing, being crushed. The ball of silver foil bounced close to him and stopped. He could hear no footsteps, no advance, no retreat--and no conversation. A sentry, then; a lone lookout. Maybe part of an observation post, which would mean two men. They had, after all, split into two-man patrols. He heard a bar of chocolate being snapped in two. He became certain he was dealing with a stand-alone; the other man must be out on recce.
The close of daylight being so near, it was tempting to take a prisoner, a hostage. But he knew it was only tempting because he was tired. Overconfidence again. He was trying to evade the enemy, not engage it. But if feet shuffled towards the overhang, if toecaps sent crumpled earth showering down, if a pair of eyes wondered what was below . . . The gun was ready.
He hugged the soil and grass, feeling the damp soaking into his back. To take his mind off it, he did a little mental check, ensuring he was ready for anything.
A sigh from above, barely ten feet away. Then: "Sod this for a lark," and the sound of feet shuffling away, a throat being cleared, phlegm hawked onto the ground. Minus points, he thought--traces left for any pursuer: a gob of spit, some silver foil. Plus speaking out loud. Very minus points.
One day, he thought, one day not so very long ago, I'd have crept up behind you and dug my knife into your throat. Not a slit--a throat was tougher than you thought; a slit often wouldn't be enough--you went for maximum damage in minimum time, and above all you wanted to get the voice box. So you stuffed the point of the dagger into the throat and poked around with it.