DEAD SOULS by Ian Rankin


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Increasingly—though still in his 40s—Detective Inspector John Rebus of the Edinburgh police has been sounding the autumnal note. The tenth in his series (The Hanging Garden, 1998, etc.) finds him full in the winter of his discontent. Bleak questions prevail. Will his daughter’s automobile accident leave her permanently crippled? Has his relationship with his lover plummeted past the irretrievable? And what about his job? Has he lost his sense of vocation? One of his colleagues thinks so. “Something in you has gone bad, John,” she tells him. After a stakeout at the Edinburgh zoo, Rebus makes a bad mistake—arrests the wrong man’setting in motion a chain of events that leads to a brutal murder. Now Rebus is face to face with that most searching of all questions, one that early in his career would have been unimaginable: Should he actually quit? But then the pace of events accelerates swiftly. There’s time only to pursue the links between the death he may have caused, a young man’s inexplicable disappearance, and a fellow cop’s apparent suicide. He connects them, of course. And in the process tracks down a particularly vicious murderer whose cleverness and talent for gamesmanship is sufficient to force Rebus to the top of his own game. Rebus in action is Rebus restored. Some lives, he decides—his own, for instance—are best left unexamined. Hard-drinking, hard-living Rebus remains a compelling figure, but in a book this long he gets too much time to pick at himself.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-312-20293-8
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Minotaur
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1999

Kirkus Interview
Ian Rankin
August 11, 2015

Brilliant, irascible and frequently frustrating to both his friends and his long-suffering bosses, John Rebus has made the dark places of Edinburgh his home for over two decades. The Beat Goes On: The Complete Rebus Stories collects all of Ian Rankin's Rebus short stories for the first time, including two never-before published tales written specifically for this collection. From his beginnings as a young Detective Constable in “Dead and Buried,” right up to his dramatic, but not quite final, retirement in “The Very Last Drop,” Rebus shines in these stories, confirming his status as one of crime fiction's most compelling, brilliant, and unforgettable characters. “Rankin’s canny cop is as gray and dour as his Edinburgh beat, but he’s in fine form in these clever, occasionally touching, and often wryly funny vignettes,” our reviewer writes; we talk to Rankin this week on Kirkus TV. View video >


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