Wednesday, October 15, 2008

"Exit Music" by Ian Rankin

This is the nineteenth and final time that I will be able to lose myself in a case with Detective Inspector John Rebus. Both my husband and I have read the entire series, and I have to say, I'm actually a bit sad to see it end. Kudos, though, to Rankin for sticking to his guns; he'd said all along that by writing Rebus in "real time", having him age through the series, there would come a time when the crusty cop would retire. He has, and this is definitely a wonderful ending to a fabulous series. If you like realistic crime dramas, ones where there aren't always distinctive black-and-white sides but shades of grey, this is your series. You won't find a better-written one in my humble opinion.

Rebus is only a week away from his last day on the job. He's trying to wrap up a few old cases; more importantly, he's trying to convince his partner Siobhan Clarke to keep digging on some of the cold cases. A dead body shows up and they're assigned the case; it seems like a simple homicidal assault, but Rebus sees connections to bigger fish, namely, Big Ger Macafferty, his arch nemesis. The deceased turns out to be Russian poet Alexander Todorov; he's immigrated to Scotland and seems to be rankling several of his homeland's higher-ups with his much freer writing. There are several Russian businessmen in town looking to secure financing through Scotland's largest bank; could one of them possibly had something to do with the poet's death? Especially since one of the men seems to have a relationship of sorts with Big Ger? Rebus, of course, thinks this is definitely the case and follows down that road, regardless of what he's told by his superiors (and his partner). Rebus being Rebus, it's no matter to him that he's just hours away from retirement; if Big Ger is involved, he's got to act fast - it could be his last chance to put him away for good.

There's a second murder of a recording studio owner, one that just adds to Rebus's conspiracy theory. But is our beloved curmudgeon barking up the right tree? Was it simply a mugging gone bad? How is the girl who found the body involved? Why does the husband of the couple who found her screaming in the alley keep visiting the girl? Why are their bank executives and government elite visiting with the Russian businessmen, and how does a possibly independent Scotland figure into the whole mess? You'll just have to read for yourselves to find out.

This was a fantastic book, and surprisingly enough, for all the stuff going on in it, one of Rankin's easier to follow entries. There's always a lot of plot twists and turns, not to mention subplots in the Rebus books and sometimes they can be a bit hard to follow. This one was very well-written, and it's obvious that Rankin has as much love for Rebus as we do. Will we ever see Rebus again? I think there's a good chance of it. Will Rankin continue to write about Siobhan, Rebus's partner? I don't know if he'll take that direction or not. I suspect he'll write thrillers from a totally different perspective; pick up some of his John Harvey books if you want to try that angle. Either way, Rankin is a writer of substance and I look forward to his next endeavor.

Enjoy retirement, Rebus, you old dog!

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