With Detective Inspector John Rebus (Exit Music, 2008, etc.) rusticated by mandatory retirement, Rankin offers a stand-alone about dishonor among thieves.
At 37, Mike Mackenzie has more money and time than he knows what to do with. The combination isn’t certain to spell trouble, but that’s the way to bet it. Having sold his partnership in a white-hot software company, Mike takes his place among Edinburgh’s most bored eligible bachelors. By contrast, noted art expert Robert Gissing is far from bored; people with a mission seldom are. Prof. Gissing views himself as a freedom fighter on behalf of artworks. Too often, he insists, masterpieces are imprisoned, locked away from public appreciation in fat-cat boardrooms or neglected and half-forgotten in musty warehouses. He proposes that Mike join a liberation movement: “We’d be freeing them, not stealing them. We’d be doing it out of love.” For Mike, it’s a wake-up call and a siren song, and his heart races as he prepares to strike a blow. The team soon assembled includes a top-notch forger and a savvy bottom-feeder ready to supply whatever muscle is needed; clearly, not all team members are in it for the love of art. The heist is meticulously planned and carried out with impressive efficiency, but it’s when the thieves fall out that the fun begins.
Not up to Rankin’s best—Rebus, we miss you—but certainly entertaining.