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Rebus Still Here, and in Fine Form,
This review is from: Saints of the Shadow Bible (Inspector Rebus 19) (Hardcover)
For fans of Detective Inspector John Rebus, his "retirement" in the excellent Exit Music was a sad moment. But author Ian Rankin knows that fans, old and new, can't get enough of the cantankerous, hard-drinking, rogue detective, who plays by his own rules no matter the damage it does to his personal or professional life. In Saints of the Shadow Bible, the second Rebus book since that short-lived retirement, Rebus has been demoted to a Detective Sergeant, but this doesn't concern him in the least; the only thing he loves is the job. He is united with Malcolm Fox, an Internal Affairs inspector who has starred in his own Rankin books, starting with The Complaints.
At times not trusting each other, at times coming close to blows, the two men must learn to work together on a series of seemingly unrelated crimes, some of which span back to Rebus's first days on the force, 30 years earlier, as well as new murder investigations that cross their paths. All this takes place in the context of the run-up to Scotland's referendum on independence, where even street-level crimes may have political motivations, and politicians with specific agendas either push or block the investigations that suit them. Rebus, as always his own man, has to cut through the double-talk in order to find kernels of truth.
Rankin eventually ties all the story-lines together, although it's almost impossible to follow the many threads that make up the complex puzzle of this book. Fans of the Rebus series probably don't care how complicated the mystery becomes, nor will they question the logical leaps that Rebus manages to make in order to solve the various crimes. What matters is dropping in on this old friend, seeing him seemingly down and out, and then rising again in defiance of all the odds to best his rivals, whether these rivals are other, "by the book" policemen, stuffed-shirt politicians or the criminal low-lifes that he seems most comfortable around.
Perhaps more than any of his earlier books, Saints looks deep into Rebus's past to question his ethics and his disregard of anybody else's way of doing things. He's getting older, perhaps more introspective, but he's still driven to solve crimes and punish those he considers the bad guys. He's aware that abusive police tactics from his earlier days will no longer be tolerated, and he has to manage to solve the crimes while not getting into any more trouble. It's a delicate balancing act that he pulls it off once more in this terrific book, and no fan of this great detective series can ask for more than that.