I bought this at the same time as Saints of the shadow bible (reviewed here) but was too lazy to check the chronology, and read Standing in another man’s grave second, when I should have read it first. It made no real difference to my reading pleasure, but if you are venturing anew into Ian Rankin territory, I would recommend trying to read his Rebus books in chronological order.
This book includes initial skirmishes between Malcolm Fox (of Complaints) and Rebus, and adds a slight diversion from the main story: the hunt for a previously undiscovered serial killer. Rebus meets the mother of a young girl who disappeared years before. She tells him there is a link with other disappearances. As Rebus tentatively looks at cold case files, he can see there may, indeed, be such a killer. First he has to convince his bosses (and colleagues). Then he has to find the baddie.
Alongside this, the book features Rebus’ relationships with certain criminal elements, and deftly shows how the interpretation of these relationships can be built on the flimsiest of suppositions. But those relationships, or apparent relationships, can tar Rebus as corrupt, or corruptible. Rebus, who is no fool, knows this. And while at times he screws up in his dealings with the world outside, generally he does a better job of dealing with organized crime. However, whether such dealings are to be admired or otherwise, may be a matter of debate.
As before, Ian Rankin delivers a tightly written book, with solid characters, great plot, decent twists, and sharp, sharp, dialogue. I like the musical references, but they may grate with people with no interest in that topic. (And a couple of times, the dialogue may not quite work without an understanding of the musical references. Nothing fatal.) My time with this book was an absolute joy. It’s not quite as good as Saints of the shadow bible, but only a whisker away. Superb.