Sunday, March 2, 2014

Bleeding HeartsBleeding Hearts by Ian Rankin
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I had to check the name of the author of "Bleeding Hearts" twice before I even reached page 40. Yes, the name on the book cover is indeed Ian Rankin, an Edgar Award winner for an Inspector Rebus novel. I have read most Rankin's Rebus novels and, as unbearably repetitive as they are, they are well-written, well-plotted, atmospheric mysteries with nicely developed characters and interesting psychological and sociological observations. Either Mr. Rankin has written "Bleeding Hearts" as a prank or it has been ghost-written by someone with limited literary skills. The book reads as an entry in a contest for The Most Ineptly Written And Cliche-Ridden Thriller.

Michael Weston, a professional assassin, completes a successful hit in London, but the police almost catch him. He begins suspecting his employers and embarks on a quest of finding them. Simultaneously, Leo Hoffer, a private detective, is pursuing Mr. Weston with an order to kill him. Same old same old - the hunter becomes the hunted, etc. The plot is full of miraculously happening events occurring when they are convenient. As Mr. Weston himself realizes at some point "things start slotting in place". Yeah, they better do because it is already page 400 and no resolution is in sight.

The blurb on the back cover says that Mr. Rankin has a "brilliant eye for character". In general I agree, but definitely not in this book. All characters here are one-dimensional caricatures, especially the loutish and obnoxious Leo Hoffer. The writing is occasionally atrocious: "Hoffer sniffed so much these days, he was hardly aware of it. He blew his nose and reminded himself to buy more tissues." Does it make the character seem real? No, but it makes Mr. Rankin literary skills seem less than stellar. The only redeeming qualities are brief descriptions of Washington state locales and some mild humor at the expense of U.S. culture. There is precious little of it, though.

Waste of time!

One and a half stars.

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