Finally, iconoclastic DI John Rebus has gone too far, heaving crockery at DCI Gill Templer, and he’s been remanded to Tulliallan, the Scottish Police College midway between Edinburgh and Glasgow, for a course on appropriate team behavior led by retired DCI Tennant, who assigns Rebus and five other anti-authority types—officers Francis Gray, Stu Sutherland, Tam Barclay, Allan Ward, Jazz McCullough—to work, together, in harmony, on the long unresolved murder of Eric Lomax. Meanwhile, back in Edinburgh, DS Siobhan Clarke and new laddie DC Davie Hynds have their hands full with the murder of bludgeoned art dealer Edward Marber, the case Rebus was investigating before being sent down to Tulliallan and confronted with the Lomax killing, another former case of his. Yet a third job for Rebus hinges on the real reason (no, not his insubordination) he’s been sent to Tulliallan: to get the goods on three dirty cops. Unfortunately, his plan to lure them into capture during a police warehouse drug heist goes awry when the drugs disappear. The political infighting this debacle causes among Rebus’s superiors is only partially resolved when he manages to implicate the tainted coppers by tying their earlier ill-gotten windfalls into Marber’s death and barely escapes death himself when one of his targets switches sides.
Rankin keeps topping his own best work (A Good Hanging, 2002, etc.), this time by juicing up the plot with more twists than the Amalfi Drive, giving Siobhan more to do, and having Rebus revisit old graves and overlooked mistakes en route to a kind of resurrection.