Quick quiz. Who is the biggest a-hole in the Scottish Police? John Rebus. I suppose other readers will argue in Rebus's favor or posit their own favorite from the many Scottish crime novels out there. But, this is my blog. So shut up.
Rankin retired Rebus a few years before this novel and then brought him back as a retiree working cold cases. Now Rankin has Rebus back on the police department. Rebus is at a lower rank because the department had not open positions for his retired rank. Rebus doesn't care about rank or approval. He just wants to work the job and solve cases. He'll follow like a bloodhound until he collapses.
Rebus will also drink like a fish and insult like Don Rickles. Which brings me back to the Biggest A-Hole in the Scottish Police. Few people are willing to work with Rebus. He has become a legend within his department but once people get to know him they either get to like him or - most usually - just tolerate him.
Rebus serving under his former partner, Siobhan Clarke, now that she is a Sergeant. Again, Rebus doesn't much care about this but does bristle when a retired pathologist makes a few digs about it. And Rebus is always pushing back against his commanding officers no matter what.
Rebus and Clarke get called to a car wreck. The female college student's wealthy London father has political pull and Rebus and Clarke are there to dot the i and cross the t. Being a particularly suspicious and A-Hole Rebus spies some inconsistencies with the young lady's story and starts asking questions, questions, questions.
Rankin has also come under suspicion over the actions of a detective unit from 30 years ago when Rankin was a freshly minted detective. The unit called themselves The Saints of the Shadow Bible. The Saints broke rules, punched suspects, and made me want to re-watch the Red Riding trilogy.
Anyhoo. Rankin is back up against Inspector Fox - a newer Rankin character - from the Complaints Department as Fox investigates the Saints. Rebus has to stay loyal to his former colleagues and the rule of law. Because, let's be clear, Rebus may be a rule breaker himself and he will push the envelope of acceptable behavior, but he is all about the rule of law and catching those that break it.
1. You know, other reviewers have mentioned how the loss in rank is galling to Rebus. Maybe Rankin is pursuing that part of Rebus but I just never saw Rebus being ticked off over rank. (Or, I completely missed it.) Like I mention above, Rebus doesn't like anyone with a higher rank. He doesn't like anyone he considers incompetent.
2. Rankin was on BBC 6 Music a couple weeks ago plugging his band. Rankin mentioned how Fox and Rebus are quite similar. He retired Rebus and created Fox and now has them working together. They are so alike they initially don't get along but are forming a friendship.