Sunday Story Ratings #77: Tell Me Who to Kill by Ian Rankin


Tell Me Who to Kill by Ian Rankin

Originally published 2003 in Mysterious Pleasures; this edition 2004, 2005 printing

Publisher: Allison & Busby Limited

Collected in: The Best British Mysteries 2005 (ed. Maxim Jakubowski)



Parental Guidance recommended for audiences under 15 years of age

(D, V)

Drug Use {PG} (G: pre-story beer consumption; coffee; paracetamol. PG: viewpoint character smoking cigarettes; whisky (on-screen, plus POV character's consumption of the listed items adding up); acquisition and drinking of a lager 4-pack)

Violence {PG} (set-up is accident victim; no sense of ongoing threat or menace, but surrounding character portrayal invites us to regard the victim and the driver's humanity, a personal rather than abstract tragedy)




Women present in relationship roles - distraught wife, non-distraught wife, absent girlfriend. Tension of the "husband angry at idea of wife spending 'all his money'", 'passionate relationship' sort.

(had thought a woman was present as a nurse, but checking back that was my presumption, not Rankin's. although the surgeon is gendered male.)


Only heterosexual relationships depicted and driving the story

Race & Ethnicity:

A black couple (male-female relationship) play a role later on, described "Not just coffee-coloured, but as black as ebony" to emphasise their blackness. POV character thinking his visit as a police officer may have unintended negative social consequences for them due to neighbourhood prejudice. The man in this relationship is a star soccer player.

One character marked as white, but seems safe to assume all others were also.

Disability, Physical Diversity and Health:

Only in that a character was a physiotherapist.


Not found


Detective Inspectors with business cards. I keep being surprised, but it makes sense when I think about it.

Hadn't read any Inspector Rebus stories previously, but had been meaning. Since this opening tale was one of my favourites of the entire collection I've definitely no changed my mind on that. Nicely detective-oriented short piece, despite several moments toward the end when details noticeably kept from the reader to drag it out a little longer.