Who ever heard of serial suicide? Yet that's exactly what Edinburgh's Inspector John Rebus seems to have on his hands. First, the two kids who claim to have kidnapped Kirstie Kennedy, the Lord Provost's daughter, evade a roadblock by gently tipping themselves over the edge of a bridge into the Firth of Forth; then Hugh McAnally, just released from prison after serving four years for rape, blows his head off in front of his handpicked witness, District Councillor Tom Gillespie (who insists that McAnally's not even in his ward). There's no question that all three deaths were suicides, but what's behind them, and what ties them together? It doesn't look as if Rebus (Mortal Causes, not reviewed; The Black Book, 1994, etc.) is going to find out, since shortly after he confiscates the documents Gillespie's been shredding into his trash--documents implicating a Scottish-hope computer firm and the Scottish Development Agency in a nasty coverup that reaches as high as an elephant's eye--he's packed off on an unwilling leave, preparatory to being threatened (not only by his hated rival Alister Flower and his lover-turned-chief Gill Templer, but by empyrean higher-ups with sharp teeth) with the ruin of his career; meanwhile, the Gillespie documents are spirited off by the treacherous District Chief Constable as Gillespie himself lies stabbed to death in an alley. Not a good omen for the redoubtable Rebus. It takes every bit of Rankin's finesse, and every bit of Rebus's nerve, to unravel the complex plot. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy this author's boldest, most ambitious novel yet.