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Blood Hunt    by Ian Rankin order for
Blood Hunt
by Ian Rankin
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2006 (2006)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

At first I was disappointed to find this was not an Inspector John Rebus story, but I got over it very quickly as I got to know and care about his new hero, ex-SAS anarchist Gordon Reeve, who runs an intensive course ('partly Outward Bound, partly survivalist') for weekend soldiers in South Uist, Scotland with his wife Joan, loves his eleven-year-old computer-game-obsessed son Allan, and struggles seriously with anger management.

Reeve has just finished a course, and reminded his students that 'Proper Planning and Preparation Prevent Piss-Poor Performance' when he hears of his journalist brother James' death (supposedly a suicide) in San Diego. Gordon flies there immediately and quickly realizes that his brother was murdered, and that the investigating police officer is corrupt. The trail leads him to multinational Co-World Chemicals and an executive named Kosigin, as well as a big corporate investigation firm, Alliance. Lurking in the background is Kosigin's sinister mercenary henchman Jay, who once shared an SAS mission in Argentina with Gordon, calls him Philosopher, and is delighted to have another chance to cross swords with him, all the while whistling 'Row, row, row your boat ...'.

Back in Britain, Gordon finds a hungry young reporter named Fliss borrowing his brother's apartment. With her help, he contacts his brother's wary's sources, not realizing that his phones have been tapped. Joshua Vincent, whose own life has been threatened, tells him of possible links between widespread use of OP (organophosphorous) chemicals, and an increasing prevalence of neurological diseases worldwide. In France, an encounter with the bad guys leads to deaths, after which our hero is pursued by the police as well as the villains. He applies unorthodox, highly illegal methods to obtain information, and uses it to entice Jay back to his own Scottish home ground for a hunt that's become very personal.

In Blood Hunt, Ian Rankin introduces an exciting new hero, one who is just as complex, flawed, and powerful as his Detective Inspector John Rebus. I very much hope that this thriller has launched a new series for the author.

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