Ian Rankin at times seems like the most Scottish Scotsman that ever Scotted. The Rebus books are all Scotland. Driving in Edinburgh. Restaurants in Edinburgh. Neighborhoods in Edinburgh. Scottish musicians and songs and poetry and sculptors and painters and so on and so forth. I suppose you could say the same thing about me and Wisconsin. Rebus rarely leave Scotland and I rarely leave Wisconsin. Screw it, I stand by my above statement.
Anyhoo. This is book #20 and Rebus is still retired after a brief return to the cold case unit in a previous novel. This time around Rebus's old nemesis and drinking buddy McCafferty gets shot at through his living room window. McCafferty refuses to talk to the cops of course. But, he will talk to Rebus.
Meanwhile, Rebus's old work partner Siobhan (that I also pictures as Chiffon in these audiobooks) is working the shooting death of a senior, wealthy, and well placed lawyer. Along the way is a Glasgow mobster traveling around Edinburgh searching for a missing transport truck and it's contents. The mobster is being followed by some Glasgow cops who are assholes. Malcolm Fox gets assigned as local liaison for the Glasgow Asshole Brigade.
Rankin does his usual plot and throws all these people together and continues to make Rebus a real prick. It's all great stuff and plenty of things happening: gangsters maneuvering for power, cops maneuvering for power, victims suffering, guilty people worrying, hidden child rape by powerful people. Along the way rebus ticks off his friends, smokes too much, drinks too much, and gets everything worked out. Driving the killings is a long buried sex abuse ring run by powerful pederasts who raped the residents of a group home for delinquent teen boys.
Behind all the usual police procedural story is a theme of fathers. Usually lousy or absent fathers heading up fractured families.
- Rebus rarely visits his daughter who lives in Northern Scotland and has only seen his granddaughter twice.
- Malcolm Fox regularly visits his elderly father in long-term hospice but does it out of duty. Malcolm's father regularly disparages Malcolm's ability to be a cop.
- The Glasgow mob boss has a son in his twenties who is murdered. He barely knew his son and even though driven to revenge the mob boss doesn't seem too sad. His revenge is more about showing power and getting even.
- The killer suffered under a man whose sexual abuse and near murder left him unable to connect and care for a child. The killer blamed the men who made his father a victim and goes after those men.
- Siobhan Clark has no family at all. I may be confusing novels and authors but I recall her parents dying when she was young. Rebus and other men kinda act as father figures.
Anyhoo. Rankin's books are always - aside from Doors Open - pretty damn good. Great characters and great scenery. Rankin's people always make sense; he doesn't throw in some bullshit reasons to drive his characters to act one way or another.
1. Were the '70s and '80s a couple decades of massive sex abuse by the rich and powerful in the UK? I kept thinking of the Red Riding film trilogy and Jimmy Saville as the book went on.
2. Book title is from a song by the group The Associates. Where are the Associates from? Scotland, of course.