Veteran cop John Rebus emerges from retirement to look into a pair of parallel cases of revenge.
When David Menzies Minton, former Lord Advocate of Scotland, is bludgeoned to death in his Edinburgh home, DI Siobhan Clarke shares one crime-scene detail she shouldn’t with her friend DI Malcolm Fox: a note saying, “I’M GOING TO KILL YOU FOR WHAT YOU DID.” After someone shoots at crime lord Big Ger Cafferty, she also rousts John Rebus, a month into his retirement, from his usual station at the Oxford Bar. As a detective, Rebus had developed an odd working relationship with Cafferty. So now he agrees to be a consultant, especially after Cafferty gets the same death-threat note as Minton. There’s no obvious link between Minton’s murder and the attempted hit on Cafferty, however, and even less connection with a past break-in and the murder of a lottery winner. Meanwhile, Fox reluctantly becomes his boss’ spy for a surveillance team that hopes to take down a Glaswegian gangster and his heir apparent, who’ve come to Edinburgh on the trail of a man who betrayed them. It’s not easy for a man widely regarded as an internal snitch to win the team’s confidence. Fox even has to take a beating from the man he suspects is the team’s undercover member. But he takes a cue from Rebus, who was notorious for going his own way when he was a cop and is even more inclined to do so as a civilian. It pays off when Rebus uses his connections and know-how to help Clarke and Fox find the key they’ve been looking for, a terrible secret that spills into the turf war among criminal factions and exposes the past lives of those supposedly on the right side of the law.
Rankin (The Beat Goes On, 2015, etc.) takes his time setting up all these plots. But it’s well worth the wait to see how the latest entry in this celebrated series fits all the pieces together.