Five years after his last recorded case (Exit Music, 2008), John Rebus returns, and welcome.
Now a civilian trolling through cold cases for the about-to-be-dismantled Serious Crime Review Unit of the Lothian and Borders Police, retired DI John Rebus can still drink Scotland’s lochs dry, leave conversations in the middle to go out for a smoke, and raise insubordination to high art. When a call comes through from Nina Hazlitt insisting that there are similarities between two recent disappearances and the unsolved case of her daughter Sally, missing since New Year’s Eve 1999, Rebus hesitantly agrees that the A9 route through the Highlands, where the girls were last seen, may warrant a closer look. His decision lands him under the baleful eyes of his former ally Siobhan Clarke and her boss and brings him once more to the attention of Malcolm Fox, his nemesis in Internal Affairs, who’d be only too happy to prove Rebus guilty of something, perhaps planned during his fortnightly pub meetings with pastured criminal kingpin Big Ger Cafferty. The A9 isn’t the only clue to surface. There’s also a photograph the girls sent to friends over the phone on the day they went missing. Trudging back and forth between Edinburgh and several North Scotland villages, Rebus and Siobhan disconcert various police forces, sidestep voracious media types, concentrate on a wrong suspect or two, and are ordered to step down. Rebus, of course, keeps at it, finally scaring a confession out of a perp by engineering one more abduction with the help of a ruthless teenager on track to be the next Cafferty.
Rankin deserves every award he’s been given: an Edgar, a Gold Dagger, a Diamond Dagger. Surely there’s another one waiting for Rebus’ thrilling return to the fold.