Mortal Causes takes place during the final months of escalating violence before the Good Friday Agreement. Reading a 20-year-old mystery is a bit like stepping into a time machine. I was an adult, and in law school, when Inspector John Rebus first sees the body, strung up and shot in an underground rehab site. Billy Cunningham appears to be an IRA victim, but something doesn't seem right to Rebus - is it possible that Cunningham's murder was an attempt to frame the IRA or the act of a splinter group? Complicating matters, Cunningham just happened to be Big Ger Coffey's son and prison can't stop the gangster from threatening Rebus if he doesn't solve his son's murder. Rankin's mystery is complex, and I don't want to spoil the mystery for future readers. Suffice to say that Rankin easily and non-obviously ties the murder, increasing sectarian violence (Rebus lives in a world where religion, even if you're not religious, chooses which soccer team you root for), and council estate gangs into a satisfying mystery.
Monday, July 4, 2016
The recent Brexit vote may affect the tenuous peace in Northern Ireland. The country not only voted to stay in the EU (along with Scotland), but it's been propped up by help from the central EU government. Will 20 years of uneasy discomfort dissolve into renewed violence if/when the economy of Northern Ireland falls without support from Brussels?