HAVING vowed never to read another John Rebus novel by the smart Ian Rankin, I was somewhat taken aback when I dipped into the latest one, and found I could not put it down. Once again, story-teller Rankin has captured his readers from first page to last as he has brought Rebus out of retirement (predictable perhaps but not inevitable) to lend his franik appraisal to some baffling crimes. Detective Inspector Siobhan Clarke asks for his help after the death of a highly respected lawyer. Beside his body was a note which read ‘I AM GOING TO KILL YOU FOR WHAT YOU DID’. Who was to do the killing, and for what reason?
This was baffling enough,on its own, but another similar threat was received, along with a bullet through his window, by Ger Cafferty, whom readers have met in many previous Rebus yarns. They had each other’s measure, but he needed Rebus on his side this time around. Edinburgh is about to be invaded by another criminal gang and Cafferty cannot have that happening, nor can he stop the killing. As usual there is a good deal of detail about those, but nothing gratuitous, which is a relief. Fortunately Rankin introduces a very human side to Rebus, in the form of a stray dog, which brings out his better nature, and gives the captive reader a glimpse of an older and wiser retired cop. It would seem that sleuthing is in his blood, and it is as well that it is for the sake of those characters threatened by past misdeeds. It all came down to a “boy, a boy frightened, neglected, abandoned. Sons and fathers.” With Rebus musing about the fathers and sons in the background of these events over ten days, there was bound to be a solution. It is a very different one, but it is nonetheless, most satisfying, as it proves that the law can now recognized diminished responsibility along with post traumatic stress, both present in the life of the perpetrator. Dogs in the wild and in domesticity have never been more engaging than they are in this latest, captivating embus narrative.
EVEN DOGS IN THE WILD
by IAN RANKIN
PUBLISHED by ORION