Cast adrift when the CID closes their old patch, DI John Rebus and DS Siobhan Clarke try to fit in at the Gayfield Square stationhouse, on the edge of Edinburgh’s posh New Town.
In a none too subtle hint that’s it’s time to retire, Inspector Rebus isn’t even assigned a desk at his new posting. So he goes a-wandering and winds up at the fatal stabbing of a Turkish Kurd in Knoxland, a warren of council houses. Clarke, meanwhile, is viewing the dead mother and child unearthed in the cellar of Ray Mangold’s pub and trying to find Ishbel Jardine, the 18-year-old sister of a rape victim who committed suicide. Rebus and Clarke follow separate leads to the heart of sleaziest Edinburgh, an area labeled the Pubic Triangle, where porn and pimps predominate and someone is trafficking in illegals—bailing them out of Whitemire, an immigration detention center, setting them up in council flats, and using them as slave labor. While Rebus is sidetracked into assuming his case hinges on racism and perplexed by the anonymous tips phoned in to Felix Storey of Immigration, Clarke must deal with still another murder, that of Ishbel’s sister’s rapist.
Iconoclastic Rebus and tetchy Clarke (A Question of Blood, 2004, etc.) are the best thing to come out of Scotland since single-malt—especially when they’re involved in a plot so rich and complex.