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Touring the site of Edinburgh’s new parliamentary building complex, dour DI John Rebus and fast-tracking DI Derek Linford are present when a moldy, desiccated skeleton comes tumbling out of a long-disused fireplace. At nearly the same time, Roddy Grieve, a lesser member of the town’s leading family standing for Scotland’s parliament, gets the back of his skull cracked in, while a down-and-outer living rough leaps to his death from a bridge. Rebus, never a team player, is assigned to sort out Grieve’s murder, but with Linford calling the shots. Meanwhile, Siobhan Clarke, newly off a rape-and-assault case, is to handle the leaper, who turns out to have £400,000 in the bank, while DS Wylie and DC Hood have the grunt work of identifying the skeleton. Ignoring Linford, niggling round the edges of the other two cases, Rebus senses the three tie together, and is soon hounding bad-guy builders and developers Barry Hutton and his strong-arm uncle, Bryce Callan, and meeting up again with Big Ger Cafferty (The Black Book, 1994), released from prison because of supposedly inoperable cancer. Irritating his superiors, taunting Linford, and unwisely accepting a ride with Big Ger, Rebus identifies a brother on the lam, an obsessed peeping Tom, and a scheme to control the Edinburgh landscape, but not before more death and his own violent beating.

Rankin, who won a Gold Dagger for Black and Blue (1997), adds another bracing Scotch sour to his fine Rebus series, concentrating this time on mordant family relationships, professional infighting, and the near-lethal mistakes of a good man.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-312-20609-7
Page count: 432pp
Publisher: Minotaur
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2000

Kirkus Interview
Ian Rankin
August 11, 2015

Brilliant, irascible and frequently frustrating to both his friends and his long-suffering bosses, John Rebus has made the dark places of Edinburgh his home for over two decades. The Beat Goes On: The Complete Rebus Stories collects all of Ian Rankin's Rebus short stories for the first time, including two never-before published tales written specifically for this collection. From his beginnings as a young Detective Constable in “Dead and Buried,” right up to his dramatic, but not quite final, retirement in “The Very Last Drop,” Rebus shines in these stories, confirming his status as one of crime fiction's most compelling, brilliant, and unforgettable characters. “Rankin’s canny cop is as gray and dour as his Edinburgh beat, but he’s in fine form in these clever, occasionally touching, and often wryly funny vignettes,” our reviewer writes; we talk to Rankin this week on Kirkus TV. View video >


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