Excerpt from A Question of Blood by Ian Rankin, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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A Question of Blood

An Inspector Rebus Novel

by Ian Rankin

A Question of Blood by Ian Rankin X
A Question of Blood by Ian Rankin
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2004, 416 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2005, 544 pages

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"Christ, John, what the hell happened?" "I scalded myself. Looks worse than it is." "Scalded yourself ?" She leaned back, fingers pressing the edge of the desk.

He nodded. "There's no more to it than that." "Despite what I'm thinking?" "Despite what you're thinking. I filled the kitchen sink to do some dishes, forgot I hadn't added cold and plunged my hands in." "For how long exactly?"

"Long enough to scald them, apparently." He tried for a smile, reckoned the dishes story was easier to swallow than the bathtub, despite which Templer looked far from convinced. Her phone started ringing. She picked up the receiver and dropped it again, cutting the connection.

"You're not the only one having some bad luck. Martin Fairstone died in a fire." "Siobhan told me."

"And?" "Accident with a chip pan." He shrugged. "It happens." "You were with him Sunday night." "Was I?"

"Witnesses saw you together in a bar." Rebus shrugged. "I did chance to bump into him." "And left the bar with him?" "No."

"Went back to his place?" "Says who?" "John . . ."

His voice was rising. "Who says it wasn't an accident?" "The fire investigators are still looking."

"Good luck to them." Rebus made to fold his arms, realized what he was doing, and dropped them to either side again. "That probably hurts," Templer commented. "It's bearable."

"And it happened on Sunday night?" He nodded.

"Look, John . . ." She leaned forwards, elbows on the desktop. "You know what people are going to say. Siobhan claimed Fairstone was stalking her. He denied it, then countered that you'd threatened him." "A charge he decided to drop."

"But now I hear from Siobhan that Fairstone attacked her. Did you know about that?"

He shook his head. "The fire's just a stupid coincidence." She lowered her eyes. "It doesn't look good, though, does it?" Rebus made a show of examining himself. "Since when have I been interested in looking good?"

Despite herself, she almost smiled. "I just want to know that we're clean on this."

"Trust me, Gill."

"Then you won't mind making it all official? Get it down in writing?" Her phone had started ringing again.

"I'd answer it this time," a voice said. Siobhan was standing in the hallway, arms folded. Templer looked at her, then picked up the receiver. "DCS Templer speaking."

Siobhan caught Rebus's eye and gave a wink. Gill Templer was listening to whatever the caller was telling her. "I see...yes...I suppose that would be...Care to tell me why him exactly?"

Rebus suddenly knew. It was Bobby Hogan. Maybe not on the phone -Hogan could have gone over Templer's head, got the deputy chief constable to make the call on his behalf. Needing that favor from Rebus. Hogan had a certain measure of power right now, power gifted him along with his latest case. Rebus wondered what sort of favor he wanted.

Templer put down the phone. "You're to report to South Queens-ferry. Seems DI Hogan needs his hand-holding." She was staring at her desktop.

"Thank you, ma'am," Rebus said. "Fairstone won't be going anywhere, John, remember that. Soon as Hogan's finished with you, you're mine again." "Understood."

Templer looked past him to where Siobhan was still standing. "Meantime, maybe DS Clarke will shed some light-" Rebus cleared his throat. "Might be a problem there, ma'am." "In what way?"

Rebus held up his arms again and turned his wrists slowly. "I might be all right for holding Bobby Hogan's hand, but I'll need a bit of help for everything else." He half turned in the chair. "So if I could just borrow DS Clarke for a little while. . ."

"I can get you a driver," Templer snapped. "But for writing notes ...making and taking calls...needs to be CID. And from what I saw in the office, that narrows things down." He paused. "With your permission."

Copyright © 2003 by Ian Rankin.  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the publisher.

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