Let It Bleed (novel)

Let it Bleed is a 1995 crime novel by Ian Rankin. It is the seventh of the Inspector Rebus novels. The US edition has a final chapter which the UK edition does not have, as the author's 'Introduction' explains.

Let it Bleed
First edition
AuthorIan Rankin
SeriesInspector Rebus
GenreDetective fiction
PublisherOrion Books
Publication date
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages278 pp
Preceded byMortal Causes 
Followed byBlack & Blue 

Plot summary

Detective Inspector John Rebus and Frank Lauderdale start the book with a car chase across Edinburgh to apprehend kidnappers, culminating with the two youths they are chasing throwing themselves off the Forth Road Bridge and in Rebus being injured in a car crash.[1] Rebus's upset over this allows Rankin to show the character in a new light, revealing his isolation and potentially suicidal despair.

After the unconnected suicide of a terminally ill con, Rebus pursues an investigation that implicates respected people at the highest levels of government, and due to the politically sensitive nature of what he is doing, faces losing his job, or worse. He is supported by his daughter Sammy, allowing their distant relationship to be built upon.[2]

Publishing notes

The title refers to the Rolling Stones album Let it Bleed.[3]

In once scene in the novel, Rankin describes Rebus putting his foot onto the bar rail in the Oxford Bar when a band are playing. This, Rankin states, caused many people to contact him to say that there wasn't a bar rail in the Oxford at that time. Rankin mused that this mistake (he claims he mis-remembered) has led to more complaints than anything else including historical inaccuracies or police procedure.[4]

The American version of the book includes a final chapter not seen in the original UK publication. The American publishers were unhappy with the open-ending in the book and so commissioned Rankin to complete the story for the American market.[5]

TV serial

An episode of the television series "Rebus" was filmed based on the book with some differences than the original novel. Ken Stott starred as Rebus.[6]


  1. Bowden, Jen (23 August 2012). "Rebus revisited – Ian Rankin picks his favourite moments". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  2. Taylor, Andrew (21 October 1995). "Designer socks and gothic policemen". The Independent. ProQuest 312381760.
  3. Bowden, Jen (23 August 2012). "Rebus revisited – Ian Rankin picks his favourite moments". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  4. Wade, Mike (18 January 2004). "On the trail of Rankin's Rebus muse". Sunday Times. ProQuest 316800236.
  5. Alter, Alexandra (10 January 2013). "A Beloved Detective Returns". Wall Street Journal. ProQuest 1268523324.
  6. "Let It Bleed". imdb.com. Retrieved 28 October 2018.

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