This review is from: Standing in Another Man's Grave (Inspector Rebus 18) (Paperback)
He's back. Brooding, bitter, angry and still coming to terms with being a retired police detective. The most famous ex-cop in Edinburgh has found refuge in a cold case unit, hoping he might use a breakthrough in a long forgotten murder to lever his way back into the police force. Then a young woman disappears on the A9, and amid the media storm, Rebus begins to suspect that the solution to the mystery is to be found in one of his cold cases.
Rankin can write - the prologue of Standing in Another Man's Grave is a skilful exercise in subtly and mood, full of dark motifs and ironic observations. If this was maintained throughout the book, I would be Rankin's biggest fan, but much of the middle of the story feels like it was written on a treadmill. There is an abundance of police procedure and case management, which might reflect some of the realities of police work, but felt bland, although the book has the trademark darkness for which Rankin is famous. Rebus is a good character, full of resentment and cynicism, even if he never steps far away from the stereotype of an alcoholic maverick detective unable to sustain meaningful relationships.
I most enjoyed the scenes between Rebus and Malcolm Fox, the internal investigator with an unexplained grudge against the former detective. There is a great sense of animosity between these best of enemies. I would have enjoyed the book more if this relationship was allowed to develop further, although presumably this will be picked up in future instalments.
You may guess that I am not really a Rebus fan. I read The Black Book many years ago. It was enjoyable enough, but I was not bitten by the bug. Rebus has changed over the past two decades, but I do not think I have. Still, hardcore fans will no doubt enjoy this resurrection.