Ian Rankin has consistently set the pace for the new Brit pack of crime writers. Where others find themselves defined by the limitations of two dimensional characters, Rankin has worked hard to ensure that Rebus remains an unremarkable character in remarkable circumstances. Rebus is not a superhero but resembles the kind of policeman that many of us would be if we had the courage, or the desperation, to become cops ourselves. Rebus is only a policeman; a complex one, with problems and griefs that spring from his job, but always a policeman, without any unneccesary foibles or fripperies. In this novel Rebus and the usual crew of characters have to tackle the aftermath of events in 'The Hanging Garden', including his daughter's disability, and the return to Scotland of a serial killer intent on closing off the previous chapters of his life. It's impossible to describe the plot, not because it is convoluted, but because it is an interwoven sequence of events, each contingent upon the last, each driven by the needs of each character, and each described in Rankin's inimitable style. To cap it all, Rankin takes us back again to the Kingdom of Fife in writing every bit as elegaic as his non-Rebus novel, 'The Flood'. This is crime writing at its best, in the British procedural tradition, but also elevating it to new heights.