Scottish mystery writer Ian Rankin has spent the last few years transitioning from his much-beloved rumpled detective John Rebus to the relatively straight-laced Malcolm Fox, who investigates the cops gone wrong. Rankin’s latest novel finds Rebus coming out of retirement to work on a cold case squad, unexpectedly finding a connection between a series of disappearances and the suspected kidnap of a teenaged girl. Meanwhile, Rebus is getting regular visits from the also-supposedly-retired gangster Morris Cafferty, whose life was saved by Rebus. These meetings arouse the suspicion of Fox, who hates the sort of police methodology that Rebus’ generation represents.
Rebus pushes on regardless, irritating superiors and leaning on longtime partner Siobhan Clarke. Rankin wisely makes this novel much more about Rebus and the changing of the guard to Siobhan’s new team than it is about Fox and the Complaints; for all of Fox’s threats, nothing really comes of them. I appreciated that this novel was not so much a definitive farewell to Rebus as it was an intersection of the different aspects of Rankin’s Edinburgh, divided not so much by what side of the law they represent as their generation. We see Rebus and Cafferty plus other old villains, being supplanted by Clarke and her team against clever, computer-savvy criminals, with Fox watching over it all. If Rankin was making a case for a new series of novels about Clarke running alongside those of the Complaints, I would buy them.