The John Rebus series has been one of my constant reading companions for the past 14 years. Ever since I watched Anthony Bourdain visit a local Edinburgh chip shop with Ian Rankin (maybe on No Reservations?), I’ve diligently read every word I could find about former detective John Rebus and his little coterie of friends solving (and sometimes causing) crimes in Edinburgh.
This latest book is the 24th full-length Rebus story. John Rebus is no longer the rogue detective he was at the start of the series: the man who never played by the rules, smoking and drinking all the time, often not above using his fists to get the information he needed. This John is a man struggling with all of the changes in his life: struggling with retirement, struggling with his health, and struggling to amend his relationship with his daughter and granddaughter before it’s too late.
Here’s how this one goes:
Rebus is called away to see his daughter up North. Her partner, Keith, has gone missing and the local police consider her a suspect. He becomes embroiled in all of the local goings-on: a strange group (a cult?) living in a co-op just outside of town, real estate dealings between the uber wealthy, and the history of World War II internment camps that were located all over Scotland. Of course Rebus doesn’t trust the local cops to solve this case and oversteps all of the boundaries set for him.
Meanwhile, Siobhan and Malcolm are working on a murder case in the city. There have been a slew of recent attacks on international students (blame Brexit’s anti-immigration stance I guess), and they are trying to determine how and why a Saudi student was murdered on the outskirts of town.
And let’s not forget Cafferty, who can’t stand not to be involved. He owns fancy clubs now, and seems to have video coverage of all of the private goings on – infidelities, drug use, back-door deals – and loves using that to his advantage.
I truly fear that we are nearing the end of Rebus and that is not a day I look forward to. His beloved Saab didn’t survive this book — which was hard enough to deal with — and I can’t imagine Rebus can survive in his poor health for much longer. I don’t want to think about how I will (or will not) deal with that.
Edinburgh is at the top of my post-COVID travel list. Following Rankin on social media, he documents his lovely city on his daily walks, and I really want (or need?) to go and see these places in person. Top of my to-do list will be the Rebus walking tour, and I will for sure have a beer or two at the Oxford Bar.