“ Author: Ian Rankin / Format: CD-Audio / Date of publication: 08 November 2012 / Genre: Crime & Thriller / Publisher: Orion Publishing Co / Title: Standing in Another Man's Grave / ISBN 13: 9781409118480 / ISBN 10: 1409118480 / Alternative EAN: 9781409144717 „
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Back in 1982 Films of Scotland produced a documentary on the remaking of the main A9 road to the highlands: a ten year civil engineering project. Reading Ian Rankin's latest crime novel recently, I was reminded of watching this on an early VHS video, then driving along the upgraded route shortly afterwards. The road features prominently in the book, which also marks the welcome return of Rankin's popular Detective Inspector John Rebus.
Regular readers will find all the required ingredients here, along with familiar characters from previous stories: Siobhan Clarke, Cafferty etc. Rankin cleverly reintroduces 'old school' Rebus, now working in a 'cold case unit' and considering a return to mainstream policing with the recent extension to the official retirement age. He's as sharp and witty as ever, doggedly determined to pursue, by any means, an investigation into a series of disappearances linked to the A9 north of Perth, going back at least a decade.
The plot is as complex as ever, too, but with the scene in this latest story shifting back and forth between Rebus' Edinburgh and all points north to Inverness and beyond: an effective combination of 'road movie' and crime novel.
Rebus may be out of his comfort zone here but there's life in the old dog yet, despite all those years of fags (of the cigarette type!) and booze. He is still all-too-human: a flawed, unconventional but brilliant detective. Rankin skilfully sets him against the more recently introduced Malcolm Fox, of 'The Complaints'. We see Fox from a slightly different perspective here than we have done in the last two works where he has become established as the central character. I found this slightly disconcerting, as he appears in a much less sympathetic light here, distinctly 'straight-laced', and determined to thwart Rebus' return to the main force.
'The times they are a changing', to coin a phrase, with so many major organisational changes and old habits dying hard, but the often witty musical references here will resonate with many readers (including the slightly obscure title, though all will be explained in the end!). For Rebus, along with the whisky and tobacco, his music may help mitigate the 'shock of the new'; for Fox, we feel something might actually have been lost.
As ever, the characters are sharply observed, the dialogue positively crackles at times and the plot is engaging and well-paced. My only quibble might be with the plausibility of the ending, but that's a relatively minor issue as I'm sure fans will find this a rewarding read from start to finish.
Rankin has pulled it off again with the return of Rebus in this latest romp. What's more, we are left feeling there may be plenty of scope left for further interplay between the wily Fox and our favourite old dog detective!
AVAILABILITY & PRICE (May 2013)
From Amazon: Kindle version £6.49, paperback £5.27, hardcover £10.00
Hardback: 356 pages
Publisher: Orion, 2012
Audio (CD) and large print editions also available.
* Ian Rankin's official website : www.ianrankin.net (includes 'Rebus's Edinburgh')
* Orion Books : www.orionbooks.co.uk
* Scottish Screen Archive: http://ssa.nls.uk/
[© SteveS001 2013. A version of this original review may appear on other review sites]