Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Review of Standing in Another Man’s Grave by Ian Rankin (Orion, 2012)

After being forced to retire from CID, John Rebus has ended up as a civilian working in a cold case unit.  He’s frustrated to be away from the energy of live cases, but it’s better than no job at all.  When a woman approaches the unit claiming a link between a number of missing person cases, including the recent death of a teenage girl, Rebus manages to inveigle his way onto the fringes of the main case via his ex-colleague DI Siobhan Clarke.  Rebus has lost none of his old, anachronistic ways, seeing potential leads that others miss, prodding and probing potential witnesses, and kicking up the sand at the bottom of the pool to see what rises, rather than relying on formal procedure, forensics and files.  Beyond Clarke, nobody seems happy with his presence or methods, but he produces leads.  The question is whether he can hang on in until the case is solved or survive the attention of ‘the complaint’s unit’.  Given his track record, neither look likely, especially given his weekly drinking sessions with his nemesis, Big Ger Cafferty.

Having retired his famous detective a couple of books ago, Ian Rankin places him front and centre in Standing in Another Man’s Grave.  It’s a very welcome return in a thoroughly entertaining story.  Rankin always scores well on several fronts - characterisation, sense of place, contextualisation, plotting - and it’s no different with this tale, which is layered and complex.  Although the main focus is Rebus and the main case under investigation, Rankin does not neglect the host of secondary characters and their interrelations, and he interlinks several subplots that give the story a rich texture.  For the most part the plotting is excellent, though it unravels a little in the final scenes, the resolution somewhat weak and a little unconvincing.  Nevertheless, Rankin shows his skills at producing a multi-textual, engaging police procedural that hooks the reader in and tugs them along on a compelling jaunt.  Despite eighteen outings, there’s still plenty of life in the old detective and hopefully there’s more to come.

1 comment:

pattinase (abbott) said...

He is one of the best and Rebus is a great character.