Black and Blue
Goodreads ratings
4.08 / 5

"Black and Blue" Summary

By Ian Rankin

crime | 288 pages | Published in NaN

For eighteen years, Fran Benedetto kept her secret. And hid her bruises. And stayed with Bobby because she wanted her son to have a father. And because, in spite of everything, she loved him. Then one night, when she saw the look on her ten-year-old son's face, Fran finally made a choice--and ran for both their lives.Now she is starting over in a city far from home, far from Bobby. And in this place she uses a name that isn't hers, and cradles her son in her arms, and tries to forget. For the woman who now calls herself Beth, every day is a chance to heal, to put together the pieces of her shattered self. And every day she waits for Bobby to catch up to her. Because Bobby always said he would never let her go. And despite the flawlessness of her escape, Fran Benedetto is certain of one thing: It is only a matter of time...


Estimated read time: 5 min read

One Sentence Summary

A cop goes undercover to expose police corruption in Edinburgh.

Table of Contents


Ian Rankin's "Black and Blue" is a gripping crime novel that takes readers on a thrilling journey through the gritty streets of Edinburgh. Set against the backdrop of the city's dark underbelly, the story follows Detective Inspector John Rebus as he navigates a complex web of crime, corruption, and personal demons. Rankin's masterful storytelling and vivid characterizations make "Black and Blue" a captivating read that delves into the complexities of human nature and the pursuit of justice.

Brief Synopsis

The plot of "Black and Blue" unfolds in Edinburgh, Scotland, where Detective Inspector John Rebus is assigned to investigate the case of a serial killer who targets young women. As Rebus delves deeper into the investigation, he uncovers a network of corruption and deceit that reaches the highest levels of power in the city. With his own troubled past and personal struggles haunting him, Rebus must navigate treacherous territory to uncover the truth and bring the killer to justice.


The novel is primarily set in the atmospheric and atmospheric city of Edinburgh, where the imposing architecture and rich history provide a compelling backdrop for the unfolding drama. From the bustling streets of the city center to the shadowy alleyways of the old town, Rankin expertly captures the essence of Edinburgh, infusing the setting with a sense of foreboding and mystery that mirrors the complexities of the plot.

Main Characters

John RebusA grizzled and tenacious Detective Inspector with a troubled past and a relentless dedication to solving the case.
Siobhan ClarkeRebus's ambitious and resourceful colleague who becomes intricately involved in the investigation.
Big Ger CaffertyA powerful and enigmatic crime boss whose shadow looms large over the criminal underworld of Edinburgh.
Michael RebusRebus's estranged brother, whose own connections to the case add a layer of personal complexity to the story.

Summary of Story Points Over Chapters

Chapter 1-5:

  • Rebus is assigned to investigate the murder of a young woman, which leads him to uncover a series of similar killings in the city. The investigation takes him into the heart of Edinburgh's criminal underworld.

Chapter 6-10:

  • Rebus's personal demons and troubled past come to the forefront as he struggles to maintain his focus on the case. Siobhan Clarke becomes increasingly involved in the investigation, showcasing her resourcefulness and determination.

Chapter 11-15:

  • The investigation takes a dangerous turn as Rebus uncovers evidence of corruption and collusion at the highest levels of power in Edinburgh. His pursuit of the truth brings him into conflict with powerful figures in the city.

Chapter 16-20:

  • Rebus's relationship with his estranged brother, Michael, becomes entangled with the case, adding a personal dimension to the investigation. The tension and stakes escalate as the killer's identity remains elusive.

Chapter 21-25:

  • The climax of the novel sees Rebus facing off against the forces of corruption and evil that have plagued the investigation. The resolution of the case brings both closure and new challenges for Rebus and his colleagues.

Main Events

  1. Discovery of the first victim and the beginning of the investigation
  2. Uncovering the network of corruption and deceit within the city
  3. Rebus's personal struggles and conflicts with his past
  4. The involvement of powerful figures and crime bosses in the case
  5. The final confrontation and resolution of the investigation

Themes and Insights

Power and Corruption: The novel delves into the pervasive influence of power and corruption, both within the structures of law enforcement and the criminal underworld. Rankin explores the insidious nature of corruption and its far-reaching consequences.

Redemption and Personal Demons: Through Rebus's character, the novel examines the themes of redemption and personal demons, portraying the complexities of human nature and the struggle to confront one's past.

Justice and Morality: The pursuit of justice and the moral ambiguities that accompany it form a central theme in the novel. Rankin skillfully navigates the moral gray areas of law enforcement and the choices that define the characters' paths.

Reader's Takeaway

"Black and Blue" offers readers a riveting and immersive experience within the gritty world of crime fiction. The intricate plot, compelling characters, and atmospheric setting make for a captivating read that delves into the complexities of human nature, the pursuit of justice, and the enduring struggle between good and evil.


Ian Rankin's "Black and Blue" stands as a masterful example of crime fiction, weaving together a compelling narrative, rich characterizations, and thought-provoking themes. Set against the atmospheric backdrop of Edinburgh, the novel takes readers on a gripping journey through the complexities of crime, corruption, and personal redemption. With its engrossing storytelling and vivid portrayal of the human experience, "Black and Blue" is a must-read for fans of the genre.

Black and Blue FAQ

  1. What is the genre of 'Black and Blue'?

    It is a crime fiction novel.

  2. Who is the author of 'Black and Blue'?

    The author is Ian Rankin.

  3. When was 'Black and Blue' first published?

    It was first published in 1997.

  4. What is the main plot of 'Black and Blue'?

    The novel follows Inspector John Rebus as he investigates the case of a serial killer in Edinburgh.

  5. Are there any recurring characters in the book?

    Yes, Inspector John Rebus is a recurring character in Ian Rankin's novels, including 'Black and Blue.'