Say it ain’t so: Rebus retires.
Having reached mandatory retirement age, Detective Inspector John Rebus has just ten days left before leaving Edinburgh’s Gayfield Square police station. While he tries to interest his partner, Det. Sgt. Siobhan Clarke, in keeping his unsolved cases open, the pair is sent off to King’s Stables Road, where a dissident Russian poet has come to an unsightly end. It might have been a mugging, but Rebus doubts it: There’s too much fury in the killing, whose blood trail wends back to a car park. Tracing the poet’s last hours turns up a curry dinner with a recording engineer, who dies when his tape archives go up in flames, and an odd group of drinking companions at the posh Caledonian Hotel, including a wealthy Russian businessman and Rebus’s old nemesis Big Ger Cafferty, who controls most of Edinburgh’s slums, drugs and vice. With Scottish Nationalists once more urging independence and entrepreneurial Russians angling to buy up much of the country with Cafferty as middleman, could the dead poet have upset negotiations? When the case becomes a hot potato, Rebus, overstepping bounds, is suspended three days before his retirement. The case ends with a triple-twist conclusion.
One can only hope that as Conan Doyle revived Holmes and John Harvey brought back Charlie Resnick, Rankin will allow Rebus (The Naming of the Dead, 2007, etc.) several encores. Meanwhile, he goes out with panache and his usual ability to see through flummery.