Ian Rankin is on my Mt Rushmore of revered authors (along with Rainbow Rowell, James Ellroy, Jane Austen, Christopher Brookmyre, and Stephen King), and when he writes a new book, I celebrate.
Even Dogs in the Wild (the title taken from a song by The Associates) is the 20th to feature DI John Rebus, so I don’t quite recommend starting with this one, but if you are familiar with the main characters — Rebus, Siobhan Clarke, Big Ger Cafferty, Malcolm Fox, and young Daryl Christie — you should be fine. Slipping in to a new Rebus book is pretty much like reading a new Sue Grafton. You know what you’re going to get and you like it. Its formulaic, but never boring.
In this one, Rebus is officially retired from the police force, but finds himself dragged back to the force as a consultant. Someone has been firing shots at his old nemesis, Big Ger, and Rebus is the only cop that the jaded old gangster Cafferty is willing to talk to.
Meanwhile, Siobhan is investigating the death of a high-profile member of the Scottish government, and Malcolm is assigned to a team of cops from Glasgow who are trailing some gangsters who have made their way to Edinburgh. Toss is a mysterious lottery winner, a missing truck driver, a missing puppy, and some creepy notes written to potential shooting victims, and we have ourselves a real mystery.
What I love about Rebus is that he just doesn’t care about protocol. He understands right and wrong, and he goes about finding answers in his own way, largely existing in a gigantic ethical gray area. God help you if you get in his way. He’s totally old school, and puts all of the pieces together by talking to people and asking questions and listening. He does very little online research (he will bring you baked goods if you help him out with computer stuff), correctly believing that a face-to-face meeting can tell you much more than Google can.
Every time I read a Rebus book, I end up spending hours looking at pictures of Edinburgh online and planning my dream vacation there someday. A pint of IPA at the Oxford Bar sounds like just the thing on a rainy day like today.