Saturday, February 23, 2013


I am visiting Edinburgh later in the year and decided to revisit some old favourite novels set in that city.

At one time I read all of the Rebus novels by Ian Rankin, however the last in the series, Exit Music, did not hold my attention when I tried to read it back in 2007. So last weekend I tried it again and found I couldn't put it down.

For those unfamiliar with the Scottish detective, he is the ultimate in the hard drinking, cigarette smoking, rule bending, loner mould. Exit Music sees Rebus facing an empty retirement, as he attempts to solve his final case.

I admire what Rankin has done with Rebus. The character is so well drawn that he is not a stereotype, I feel like I know him. He is a grizzled, grumpy hero that I really enjoy spending time with.

In and out of Edinburgh's drinking establishments  for clandestine and often tense meetings, Rankin draws the reader into the dark side of a beautiful city. It always seems cold, overcast and muddy. The cityscape matches the novels emotional tone perfectly. For those who are familiar with the series, Exit Music also brings about something of denouement in the relationship between Rebus and longstanding foe, big Ger Cafferty. The powers that be are also breathing down Rebus's neck for him to retire as quickly as possible as he has become something of  an embarrassment and inconvenience for them. His faithful friend and colleague Siobhan Clarke remains loyal although this loyalty is tested as she is waiting for the opportunity to finally step out from his shadow and influence, and manage a team of detectives herself.

I am now currently a quarter of the way through the next Rebus novel Standing in Another Man's Grave. After six years Rankin has brought Rebus out of retirement as we find him in a civilian role with the police, in a cold case squad. Moreover the retirement age for the police force has also been lifted and Rebus is angling to come back as a detective.

Long suffering Det Clarke, now an Inspector, is still trying to protect Rebus from himself and compromising herself in the the eyes of her superiors, in the process. Further, the relationship between Rebus and old-school crime kingpin Big Ger seems to have developed into something of a mutual respect and strange sort of friendship. The meetings between the two, usually in a pub, are fascinating, like two big old tigers eying each other off, and taking the occasional swipe.

I look forward to getting through the rest of novel this weekend.