Rebus is back! The (fictional) villains of Edinburgh had thought it safe to slither from their lairs but John Rebus is back from retirement in a ‘cold case’ unit. Not quite a cop, not quite a civilian, but all Rebus – that is, not all the persons gnashing their teeth are villains.
Inspector Malcolm Fox of ‘the Complaints’ who investigates the sins of cops is obsessed by a delusion that Rebus has always been in the pay of gangster Gerald ‘Big Ger’ Cafferty. Then there are the superior officers. Rebus, a thorn in the side of numerous bosses down the years, has not changed except that he’s worse. He no longer tries to suffer fools gladly. Well, he’s sort of retired, right?
Rebus’ cold case boss, Cowan, he regards with derision but discovering there’s been a serial killer making women disappear over several years shifts him into a serious crimes unit. Rebus tries to be nice but his new boss Page is more a career obsessive on the make than a detective on the prowl. Oh dear! Rebus tries to rein himself in because his friend and former partner DI Siobhan Clarke is in the unit. But the leopard has not changed his spots: just got spottier.
This is a strange case. Women disappear but on that day apparently send the same phone picture of an unremarkable roadside view to phones randomly chosen from the victim’s acquaintances. The exception to all this is the 18-year-old schoolgirl who had disappeared before that technology existed but whose mother had never given up. She had spotted similar disappearances on the A9 since 2004 but the cases fell in different jurisdictions. Finally she stumbles on Rebus and enlists his help. He calls in the old files from the north and discovers the weird common phone link. Then an Edinburgh girl disappears on the A9 and Page’s serious crimes team are called in – plus Rebus. Even so it is all far north of Edinburgh in other jurisdictions. Will that stop Rebus? Not hardly!
Ian Rankin / Orion /Griffin Press