Thursday, January 3, 2013

Rebus returns

Well, after that grand proclamation this time last year, I managed to blog a total of...wait for it...nil times. I read mountains of books last year but never managed to put my thoughts on paper...screen...whatever.

So I start afresh.

I have just finished Ian Rankin's new Rebus book, 'Standing in another man's grave'. I wasn't too unhappy when Rankin decided to retire Rebus. His last few books with Rebus were fairly lacklustre affairs. It seemed clear to me that Rankin had tired of his creation.

Rankin then introduced us to Malcolm Fox the copper in ethical standards/internal affairs. Fox is okay but not a patch on Rebus. He lacks personality, particularly when compared to Rebus. I began to miss Rebus. And Rankin must have too.

'Standing in another man's grave' is vintage Rebus. Having retired in 'Exit Music', Rebus is now working as a civilian in the local cold case unit when the mother of a young girl who has been missing for many years comes to the unit and points out links between her daughter's disappearance and a number of other similar cases. Rebus bites on the dangled bait and manages to inveigle his way onto the investigation of the latest girl to disappear. The case is being investigated by Rebus' old partner, Siobhan Clarke.

Siobhan is now gaining respect within police management and is seen as a potential leader. The reappearance of Rebus is not welcomed at first. Their relationship is tense and awkward. Siobhan knows that her association with her old mentor is not well regarded and that he has the potential to harm her career. And yet she respects and appreciates his talents. She is in a tight spot and she knows it.

Also causing Rebus grief is his old nemesis, Big Ger Cafferty. After Rebus saved his life at the end of 'Exit Music', Cafferty has taken to turning up to Rebus' place and taking him out for a drink. The scenes between these two are fabulously taut and prickly. Rebus can't quite believe Cafferty just wants to be friends and Cafferty resents Rebus' suspicions.

Another player in this book is Malcolm Fox. Rebus is toying with the idea of applying to rejoin the police and Fox is dead set against old style mavericks like Rebus being in the force. I'm not quite sure why Rankin bothered with this sub plot as it really goes nowhere. I can only imagine that it is to set up future books featuring Rebus and Fox.

I thoroughly enjoyed the return of Rebus although I have to say I was not entirely happy with the ending. It seemed rushed and left too many questions unanswered. With the reader left unsure as to whether Rebus decides to re-join the police, I can see that Rankin has well and truly revived his hard drinking, cigarette smoking and unorthodox creation.

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