17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
"Standing In Another Man's Grave" marks the return of Rankin's best-loved creation John Rebus. After the slight disappointment of his last appearance in "Exit Music", and a string of non-Rebus titles that don't quite cut it in the same way, Rankin perhaps had something to prove by returning to Rebus, but he's come up trumps with this latest title.
Rebus is now working cold cases, and this sets him on a collision course with a recent MisPer case being worked, in turn allowing the story to bring him into contact with Siobhan Clarke and Malcolm Fox (The Complaints). Interestingly, Rankin captures the essence of changing relationships really well, with the sense that Rebus is considered past it by most people he encounters - even former colleagues who once respected him - and yet he can still get results.
Although the Rebus/Fox encounter has been played up in some publicity material for the novel, in truth Fox has a minor role, although this is enough to make the reader appreciate just how dull he is in comparision with Rebus. The story of a series of missing persons along the stretch of the A9 going back years is done well, although the plot is not perhaps as strong as the characterisations, and there is something of a rushed, convenient ending in the closing chapters that didn't entirely convince - but it certainly keeps the pages turning.
Cleverly, Rankin broadens the canvas of the story here, gving Rebus free rein over much of the wider Scottish landscape, perhaps teeing up further stories where he can operate outside of Edinburgh? Not far in the background, old nemesis Big Ger Cafferty is also coming to terms with his own mortality and sense of shifting power balances in the criminal world, although again the relationship between him and Rebus doesn't always work in this reunion of old rivals.
Ultimately, Rankin has produced a really entertaining page turner - by far his best book for some time. It does, however beg the question: where next? More of the slightly stifling Malcolm Fox and his internal investigations team - or the vastly more appealing prospect of an ageing, maverick Rebus set to appear in more books?
116 of 121 people found the following review helpful
What a joy to have my old friend Rebus back and on top form! For the first (and only!) time in my life I feel I have to thank the government for putting up the retirement age, so giving Ian Rankin this opportunity to resurrect my all time favourite policeman. Curmudgeonly as ever, but with dry sense of humour very much intact, (...to a woman with multiple piercings who refuses a drink - 'Pity, I wanted to see if you leak...') Rebus is now working in the cold cases unit. But when a young girl goes missing he makes a connection with a previous disappearance and quickly finds a way to shoehorn himself into the current investigation. The case involves several disappearances all linked to the A9 road, so Rebus is forced to leave his Edinburgh comfort zone and travel into the small towns and rural communities of the north. As he points out, he sometimes feels he's never been this far from a pub in his life.
The old characters are here - Siobhan, still unable to do the sensible thing and cut her links with her maverick old mentor; Big Ger Cafferty, like Rebus semi-retired, but still with a finger in every criminal pie. But we also meet up with Malcolm Fox of The Complaints - since Rebus has applied to rejoin the force, Fox has been tasked with checking him out and is convinced that his links with Cafferty are a sign of corruption. It's a neat trick of Rankin's to show us Fox from the other side in this book - to Rebus he's the bad guy and it's very enjoyable to see if the old fox can outrun the new one.
I enjoyed both of the Malcolm Fox books hugely and hope Rankin does more of them, but oh, the pleasure of having Rebus back...I hope the government puts the police retirement age up to eighty! Highly recommended.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 10 December 2012
There are many in Lothian and Borders Police thankful for the retirement of John Rebus. They are less happy that he is now working in a civilian capacity in the cold case unit, particularly given his tendency to spend evenings drinking with known gangsters like Morris Gerald Cafferty. Tensions bubble to the surface as Rebus begins to notice similarities between the disappearance of an Edinburgh girl, investigated by DI Siobhan Clarke, and a string of other young women who have vanished over the preceding decades. This takes Rebus into the Highlands, a long way from the comfort of Edinburgh and constantly on the verge of being sent back to the cold cases unit or even retired permanently.
There's always a reason to read Rankin. He's such an accomplished writer with caramel prose and a fantastic grasp of pace and structure. I raced to the end of Standing in Another Man's Grave just as I have every other Rebus book I've picked up.
As with every other long running series, there is a tendency for many of the tropes that make the series so familiar to become trite and stale, so it was a smart move to shake things up with the retirement of Rebus. The shift in tone works well in throwing both Rebus and the reader off kilter. Rebus is no longer just working against bureaucratic superiors but often the whole police force, to whom he now seems an outsider. Equally, the juxtaposition of dark and light -Rebus and Cafferty- no longer seems so clear cut now that the line that separated them is erased. Both are retired so whilst both still cling to their own allegiances, it's pretty clear Rebus is no longer an officer of the law and Cafferty is no longer the prince of the Edinburgh underworld.
This does throw up some problems in the novel. It was straightforward to sympathise with Rebus as the radical iconoclast in the force. Now that he is outside of it, it becomes easier to empathise with those in authority who are asked to take risks on the hunches of someone who is clearly an emotionally stunted obsessive. Despite his qualms in the quieter moments of the night, Rebus' drive to achieve justice is all consuming regardless of the damage caused to himself, friends and family.
Rankin has always distanced himself slightly from the idea of the Holmsian genius. Rebus has gut feels and makes unexpected deductions but his results are as often built on the procedure of police work (often undertaken by others, often using computers) and a degree of luck. I couldn't help feel that the resolution of this novel was too incidental to the fun Rankin was having with a newly liberated Rebus. The circumstantial evidence that Rebus gathers is -as he admits- flimsy and yet he is prepared to take a much darker path than he has in the past to validate it. It highlights the idea of Rebus as an agent for justice rather than law but also signals a shift further to grey in the character and provides a plot resolution that is less satisfying than many that Rankin has dished up.
Overall, this seems like a transitionary novel. It moves the characters much further forward than previous books and shakes up the series, promising more novelty for both writer and reader in the future. It does this, however, at the expense of the plot mechanics and, fundamentally, this is what great crime fiction relies upon.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 27 January 2013
After a long five year wait Ian Rankin has decided to bring back his most successful creation John Rebus. When I first read the news of Rebus's return I had a little bit of doubt. Could Rankin really pull it off and bring back one of my favourite ever detective and keep the magic of the previous books? Well I am happy to confirm that he most certainly has. Rebus has changed a little in the five years older but not all that wiser Rebus finds himself working in the unsolved crimes unit and drinking with an old enemy, he is also more isolated than maybe ever before, even finding ticket stubs to a concert he had been to previously brings on a dark mood that shows a more vulnerable side. However despite this darker side, the old Rebus soon pops his head up. Approached by a grieving mother and asked to look into the disappearance of her daughter Rebus is soon part of an active inquiry team trying to see if a link between other suspected victims has been missed. This reunites him and Siobhan and soon the magic does flow. I have always considered Rebus and Siobhan to be the best duo in crime fiction and this book reconfirms this for me. The pages that they are both on seem to fly by and the comedy, angst and general fiction that is between them is a highlight of the book. Siobhan is not the only Rankin creation that Rebus interacts with during the book. Fox, the star of Rankin's two complaints novels, makes an appearance and the chance to see Fox through the eyes of someone that he is investigating is fascinating and shocking. I was a big fan of Fox during the two complaints books but found myself disliking him during this book! All in all this was a wonderful read and I am very glad that Rebus is back! I would recommend this book to any fan of the crime genre and am excited for what Ian Rankin has in store for us this year.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 1 January 2013
I have read a lot of John Rebus novels as well as Rankin's more recent Fox books, but felt that this was well below the standard of his earlier works. It was rambling, lazy and repetetive. The plot was reasonably coherent but spoilt by pointless wanderings in the clapped out Saab round random areas of Northern Scotland, fuelled by whisky. The macinations of the new young gangster could have been interesting. Rebus was just annoying. I felt really ripped off by this purchase and, if I had not been on holiday without anything else much to read, would not have bothered to finish it. If Rankin were not a best selling author, no publisher would have touched this!
100 of 114 people found the following review helpful
It doesn't seem like 25 years since Rebus first hit the pages. In the 5 years since his retirement, I've missed him. The couple of books about The Complaints Division featuring the humourless, disagreeable and teetotal Malcolm Fox have helped to fill the gap, but Standing In Another Man's Grave cleverly squares the circle. Rebus returns and comes across his old adversary Fox.
Rebus comes out of retirement to work cold case files, but as a civilian. He has none of his previous powers as a police officer, but as may be expected, this small constraint doesn't stop him investigating in his own inimitable style. The route of the A9 links disappearances and unusually, Rebus leaves Edinburgh to follow leads all over Scotland. His beloved Saab is still going strong and other familiar characters including Big Ger and Siobhan also feature. The plot is more straightforward than many of the earlier stories and I found it easier to decide who's responsible for the killings. However, that doesn't detract in any way. It's a well judged page turner, the pace builds and lets go a number of times. For me, Mr Rankin nails dialogue. It's real people speaking, whoever they may be. The contrast between Fox and Rebus is stark. Fox remains sterile and disapproving whilst Rebus is almost anarchic, but human and likeable. The musical references are there, but increasingly involve a sense of mortality. Some of the most poignant moments are when Rebus reflects on the death of musicians of a similar age to himself, including John Martyn and Bert Jansch.
The good news is that the way is left open for Rebus to return. The retirement age for Police has been raised and Rebus makes it clear he wants another stint in his old job. For me, Rebus has lost non of his old magic. He remains a highly individual but engaging character. He has a distinct style and outlook but has always managed not to become a stereotype or caricature. The narrative is still fresh and relevant; there's no sense of complacency or cashing in. It's almost as if the author, too, missed and old friend. There's life in the old dog yet and the bite's as keen as ever in this outing. Thank you Mr Rankin; I hope there's another soon!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 6 October 2014
It's OK, but this is NOT one of Ian Rankin's best books by quite a long way. The main part of the story is not bad, although quite convoluted, with a bit too much in the way of sudden coincidences (always a bad move in murder/mysteries).
****** SPOILER ALERT ******
Lots of unanswered questions:
WHY did the killer send those photos as text messages, and why or how were the recipients chosen - random from the contacts list?
WHY or how was the last girl's photo a "photo of a photo" and confirmed as such by forensics?
WHY was the burial site where it was, and all together?
What a coincidence that the cadaver dog just happened to be brought in as they were searching an area purely on a hunch, and that the dog found the bodies quite some distance away in the woods
The ending would have to be the most contrived and unsatisfactory ending of ANY of the Rebus books - and I've read them all. That whole scenario of "giving the killer a scare" was just so contrived and unlikely. Why did Rebus tell Darryl he didn't want to know where - but then followed him there anyway? Why did Siobhan, normally a stickler for procedure, let Rebus even consider such a thing? How convenient that the killer is sufficiently scared that Rebus could then drop him off at the police station to make a full confession - yeah, right! And we never find out WHY he supposedly did what he did, or how, or even if he DID make that confession.
Overall, not a bad tale, but with lots of clues that it was rushed, contrived, especially the ending, and that Rankin was maybe just "churning one out" for the income? His heart wasn't in it - apart from the travelogue of Scotland. Far too many loose ends not tied up and questions unanswered. And none of them are answered in the next book either - yes, I've read that one too, and it's better than this one. But I think Rankin/Rebus has gone past the use-by date and gone a bit stale.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 February 2013
Rebus wants to leave his job in the cold case unit where he is now working and return to his job in the police force. Rankin's other detective, Malcolm Fox, is quite keen to prevent this if possible because he sees Rebus as a dinosaur, who follows old fashioned and currently not politically correct methods of investigating. Much of the interest in this story is in the juxtaposition of the old and the new through these two characters. It is perhaps as well that Rebus wants his old job back because the cold case unit ends up being closed down towards the end of the book.
The story begins well, with an unusual twist at the beginning in getting the story going. A lady befriends Rebus to try and get him to look into the disappearance of her daughter. There's a frisson of attraction between them but it doesn't come to anything and I won't reveal the twist. Suffice to say he does look into the case of her missing daughter, and by doing that manages to bring to light and connect a number of other missing girl cases up and down the A9.
I was keen to read this book because I know the A9 and it travels through some of my favourite countryside. However, I felt quite dizzy at the speed with which Rebus travelled up and down that road. It is a long hike up Scotland and yet Rebus travelled up and down the A9 several times within the space of only a few chapters (well it seemed like that anyway).
The story of the missing girls did come together well, but I found the initial twist disappointing and the ending of the investigation felt unresolved to me.
In the end Rebus does get to return to the force, and I imagine that we may see Rebus and Fox jousting in future stories.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 6 February 2013
I agree with the majority of reviewers that it's great to see Rebus back. The two recent Malcolm Fox novels were both good, but this was more enjoyable - a very good, but not great, addition to the series. My enjoyment was tinged with disappointment at the way the book ended; a somewhat implausible conclusion to the investigation (although more credible than some similar writers, such as McDermid, Atkinson).
Overall, it's a must read for any Rankin and Rebus fan. As others have said, the door has been left open for further Rebus (and Fox) stories. It will be interesting to see how the Fox persona is developed, as he came across as a very unsympathetic character in this book.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 17 February 2013
Standing in another man's grave by Ian Ranking
Rebus is back!
After 5 long years Scotland's most famous detective is back with a new tale of missing persons plus gangsters old and new. The now retired Rebus may well have left the police force but is now working on cold cases when a current missing person brings him back into contact with his colleagues including his former partner Siobhan Clarke.
Drawn away from his usual Edinburgh haunts up to the north of Scotland, the ruggedly determined Rebus uses his usual old-fashioned methods to try to solve this latest case whilst up against old foes from the `Complaints' department who have no time for Rebus and his unconventional ways.
Having read all the previous Rebus novels, I was eagerly awaiting this book and it did not disappoint. Although this book for me was a continuation of a great series - however, I feel that it could be enjoyed just as much if this was the first time you were reading a book featuring Rebus. Altogether it was a great book which will appeal to anybody who likes a fast moving read.