Book review : “The Falls” by Ian Rankin

The Falls
The Falls by Ian Rankin

The Falls” is the 12th Inspector Rebus novel. DI John Rebus is a gritty maverick in the Edinburgh Police Force, who plays by his own rules. His new boss Gill Templer, had a brief romantic relationship with Rebus and their professional relationship is prickly to say the least.

Rebus likes his alcohol and is averse to seeing a doctor. He is also tenacious with a case, even when it seems hopeless.

The evidence he’d taken home, the notes pinned to his wall – he couldn’t fool himself, it didn’t amount to evidence at all. It was a jumble of coincidence and speculation, a thin gossamer pattern created from the air, the merest flutter of breath beginning to snap its tensed threads.


“The Falls” of the title refer to some waterfalls in the countryside outside Edinburgh and the neighbouring village. The daughter of a Private Banker, Philippa Balfour, an Edinburgh student, who lives near The Falls has gone missing and Rebus and his team are looking into the disappearance. A strange carved wooden doll is discovered in a bespoke tiny coffin at The Falls of the title. The coffin is reminiscent of some similar relics found at Arthur’s Seat in the early 19th century.

The story fills us in on the history of Edinburgh bodysnatchers and murderers Burke and Hare from the 19th century and the anatomist to whom they supplied bodies. There is an online role playing game, which Siobahn, Rebus’s sidekick plays as she thinks the Quizmaster could well have something to do with Philippa Balfour’s disappearance.

There are some cliffhangers and a tense climax to the story. If you watch the TV series this book is very different to the episode of the same name. In the TV Series the lovely Nathalie Dormer plays Philippa Balfour, in the book she barely appears.

Screenshot from 2018-06-20 14:17:54
Natalie Dormer playing Philippa Balfour (left) with Inspector Rebus (Ken Stott)

This is a typical Rebus novel, he goes out on a limb and his unorthodox methods draw conflict with his superiors. There are interesting descriptions of Edinburgh, its pubs and its macabre history. There are also some interesting female characters in the police force Siobahn Clarke, Ellen Wylie and Gill Templer.

My review of another Rebus novel: Book Review “The Black Book” by Ian Rankin

My rating 4 out of 5


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