I’ve been a big fan of Ian Rankin for a while. How could I not be, when he’s been dubbed “the tartan James Ellroy”? In particular, I love the Inspector Rebus books (there must be 20 of them by now). In particular, I’ve liked the Rebus books when he’s been a bit older and a bit more bitter about life (which, all things considered, is pretty bitter.). As Rebus has aged, he’s become a more sympathetic character, even though he’s still the same guy, doing the same things. Its been quite an interesting transition.
In his latest outing, Rebus finds himself back on the Edinburgh police force full-time, but demoted to Detective Sergeant. His colleague Siobhan is now his superior, which makes for some interesting back and forth between them. And suddenly he becomes assigned to work under Malcolm Fox, the head of the Complaints Unit (Internal Affairs). Rebus is not a fan.
Fox is investigating a case from 20 years prior, a murder that was covered up by a particularly dirty group of Edinburgh cops who called themselves the Saints of the Shadow Bible. And John Rebus just so happened to be the junior officer in that group. Rebus has to figure out just where his allegiances lie — with his old colleagues, who have been keeping terrible secrets from him for years, or with his new cohorts, and with the police force in general.
Of course, there’s also another mystery unwinding at the same time. A local girl is in a car accident on a deserted road, and Rebus slowly uncovers her connection to a local politician involved in Scotland’s Independence Campaign. And as usual, there’s more than meets the eye.
I enjoyed Rebus and Fox working together, the two completely opposite styles of police work. Rebus still uses his contacts, going around the city and talking to people in person to get information. He finds himself in seedy bars and questionable places at all hours. While Fox mostly uses the internet and police databases to piece things together. Neither man is very good with people, and both have made many enemies on the force. But Siobhan is the glue that holds them together, and she’ll always be my favorite character. (Note to Ian Rankin: IN FUTURE BOOKS, DONT YOU DARE MESS WITH SIOBHAN!)
One thing that I missed in this book was Rebus’ interaction with local criminal Big Ger Cafferty. He’s been replaced with the much younger Darryl Christie (a major character in the last book, Standing in Another Man’s Grave). I like Darryl and enjoy seeing the favors he and Rebus will do for each other in order to get what they want, but I miss the dynamic that Cafferty and Rebus had. Minor quibble, I know.
I’ll read these books for as long as Rankin wants to read them, and I dread the day that has to be coming…when Rebus drinks, smokes, and eats himself into permanent retirement.