30 November 2012

Standing in Another Man's Grave; Ian Rankin

Standing in Another Man's Grave (Inspector Rebus, #18)Standing in Another Man's Grave by Ian Rankin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The title is a mondegreen - Rebus has misheard Jackie Leven singing "Standing in Another Man's Rain". So what has Rebus been up to since we last saw him? He's been working for SCRU, Lothian and Borders version of the Cold Case Squad (if you watch "New Tricks" on PBS, this is them... only without the camaraderie or the close rate. or the nice DCI leading the unit.) There's the possibility the unit will be closed because there's Crown office that does the same work, but the mandatory retirement age from the police has been lifted, so those currently retired can reapply. Rebus, of course, is interested because who is Rebus if he's not working?

Enter Nina Hazlitt, mother of Sally, who disappeared on Hogamanay 1999. Yes, it's now 2012. No, there's been nothing done on the case since. But several years ago, a very nice DI working for SCRU, Gregor Magrath, listened to her and she's checking in on the case. Not only that, she's got a theory that there's a serial killer out there because there are two other girls who went missing along the same road Sally was one - and now there's a third, "live" case, Annette McKie. Surely there's a connection? And that's all Rebus needs to start investigating the old cases and insert himself into the new one.

The new one is being investigated by a unit led by DCI James Page (insert your favorite Led Zep joke here - Rebus often does), seconded by Siobhan Clarke. Siobhan has started to really make her way in the force, partly because she's under Page's wing and partly because she's no longer under Rebus'. She does have a slight soft spot for her old mentor, however, and lets him in on the case... do I really need to go on?

So, where's the tie-in to Malcom Fox and The Complaints? Fox has amassed quiet the file on Rebus, determined to undermine his reentry to Lothian and Borders; he even stoops to some surveillance (phyisical and phone taps) to prove that Rebus and Ger Cafferty were frenemies (why else would Cafferty have avoided jail so often? and why else would Rebus have saved Cafferty's life in ICU?) not enemies. This thread is mostly off-stage, with the occasional appearance - or warning to Siobhan that she should Stay Far Away from Rebus. By the end, however, Fox has been convinced that his crusade is personal, not professional (based on their history when Fox was in uniform decades earlier).

That's the big disappointment for me: I would have loved more interaction between Fox and Rebus. It's clear which child is Rankin's favorite, to the detriment of the book. My hope is that the next book (will Rebus rejoin the force? it's left unclear at the end) will show them together more, even if Fox is dogging Rebus' footsteps.

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