Standing In Another Man's Grave

Ian Rankin is another author whom I hadn’t had the pleasure of meeting until this year during my annual review of the Edgar Award nominees in the category of Best Novel presented by Mystery Writers’ of America. I come late to this particular series as the main character, John Rebus, actually retired in 2008 in the novel Exit Music. The series apparently celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and Rebus fans are thrilled to have him back. I see why.

John Rebus returns to work cold cases for the soon to be disbanded Serious Crime Review Unit for the Lothian and Borders Police in Scotland. His world-weariness, chain-smoking and hard drinking are familiar staples of hard-boiled detective novels. But Rankin gives Rebus the resolute conviction that years of bucking the system and going his own way have solidified. His methods yield results, much to the consternation of several people out to sabotage Rebus, among them Malcolm Fox from Internal Affairs and a gangster-type who is the stepfather of a girl recently reported missing and feared dead.

Rebus connects the missing girl to several previous unsolved cases of missing girls, many of whom were last seen along the A9 road and whose last contact is a similar cell phone picture sent the day they went missing. Rebus acts as an informal mentor to and works the case with Siobhan Clarke, a detective who alternately admires and loathes Rebus’ work but recognizes his way yields more results than anything else the department has tried. Her character is a nice bit of foiling for Rebus.
I won’t spoil the resolution about how the cases are solved except to say that although I found the ending a bit abrupt, I did find the story and the mystery engaging and satisfying. I will definitely start at the beginning of the Rankin series and dive in with glee knowing there are seventeen more books to relish.

On a scale of one to ten, I rank this book a nine.

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