Rather Be the Devil

Rather Be the Devil is the 21st instalment in the Inspector Rebus series of crime novels, published in November 2016.[1] Rather Be the Devil topped the bestseller charts for hardback fiction.[2] The title was inspired by a John Martyn song from his 1973 album Solid Air.[3]

Rather Be the Devil
AuthorIan Rankin
SeriesInspector Rebus
GenreDetective fiction
Publication date
3 November 2016
Media typePrint
Preceded byEven Dogs in the Wild 
Followed byIn a House of Lies 

Plot summary

The novel opens with Rebus and his girlfriend, Deborah Quant (who is the latest pathologist in Edinburgh) dining in a restaurant. Rebus is reminded of the death in 1978 of Maria Turquand in the Caledonian hotel which is adjacent to the restaurant.

DI Malcolm Fox is at Gartcosh where Police Scotland have the Scottish Crime Campus.[4] He is repatriated to his old station when the HMRC start an investigation into Darryl Christie, the young upstart who has taken over Edinburgh from 'Big Ger' Cafferty.[5]

One night, Christie is attacked and whilst there are many suspects, one person, a known crank and false claimant, admits to the attack. Whilst Fox and DI Siobhan Clarke investigate Christie, the strands of their enquiries twist into those that Rebus is investigating meaning the three get to work together again.

Against this backdrop is a medical complaint that Rebus has a shadow on his lung (which he has named Hank Marvin), which leads to him quitting the cigarettes and the alcohol. Meanwhile, 'Big Ger' Cafferty is ready to make a comeback.[6]


  1. "Rather Be the Devil - Ian Rankin". orionbooks. Retrieved 13 November 2016.
  2. "Bestsellers". The Times (72072). Saturday Review. 19 November 2016. p. 27. ISSN 0140-0460.
  3. Miller, Phil (17 March 2016). "Ian Rankin reveals new Rebus novel, to be published in November". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 13 November 2016.
  4. Unsworth, Cathi (2 November 2015). "Rather Be the Devil by Ian Rankin review – Rebus is on the case and off the cigarettes". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 November 2016.
  5. "Rather be the Devil". ianrankin.net. Retrieved 13 November 2016.
  6. Christie, Janet (22 October 2016). "Ian Rankin Interview: 'I don't know if I'll write about Rebus again'". The Scotsman. Retrieved 13 November 2016.
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