Standing in Another Man's Grave by Ian Rankin

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Standing in Another Man's Grave by Ian Rankin

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Rebus might be 70 but he's back in harness of a sort and hankering after getting his feet back under the CID desk. A real pleasure to read.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: November 2012
Publisher: Orion
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1409144717

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I've always had the suspicion that Ian Rankin thought too much of John Rebus to allow him to fade away and he'd certainly not kill him off, so it's an elegant solution to bring him back as a civilian attached to the police force and working on cold cases. It's purely by accident that he encounters Nina Hazlitt whose daughter Sally disappeared whilst on a trip to Aviemore many years before. Her body has never been found and her mother is still determined that she will find out what happened to her. She has some other information too - other girls have gone missing and there's a common thread. They all disappeared from close to the A9 over a period of years. Rebus is intrigued - and it won't hurt to have a look at the files, will it?

The most recent disappearance is recent. Annette McKie got off a bus in Pitlochry because she was feeling ill - and was never seen again. There's a bit of an uneasy situation here because Annette's mother's boyfriend is prominent in the criminal underworld. Rebus' old nemesis, Ger Cafferty, is, er, semi-retired, but that's on the basis that some people think he is, whilst the rest know better than to believe it. He's no less wily than he used to be and he's determined that he's not going to lose contact with Rebus.

Rebus still has his contacts too. He's still close to Siobhan Clarke, but she's being warned by DI Malcolm Fox of Complaints that she'd be wise to let the relationship lapse if she hopes to have a future in the Force. Fox has always loathed Rebus - not on a personal level, but because there are too many signs that he's bent as the proverbial nine bob note. As Rankin points out there's at least one deep similarity between them. Fox doesn't drink because he's an alcoholic, whilst Rebus does drink for exactly the same reason. If you've read The Complaints or The Impossible Dead you'll find that Fox isn't quite the sympathetic character you might have imagined. It'll be interesting to see where Rankin takes him next.

As a reviewer I read a lot of books but over the course of a year there will probably only be a handful which nail me to the chair and won't let go. Standing in Another Man's Grave is one of those. The characters are superb and they stay in the mind long after you've finished the book. The locations are excellent. We're used to Edinburgh being an additional character in the Rebus novels but this time he ventures north from the city into the Highlands - you know - that area where pubs are few to the mile. It's the plot that's outstanding though - I really couldn't see where it was going. Superb.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

For more non-Edinburgh crime we can recommend Raven Black by Ann Cleeves. Standing in Another Man's Grave reads well as a stand alone - but is better if you know some of the history. For completists you can start at the beginning but you could perfectly well start at The Falls which is about the stage when Rebus was really coming into his own.

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Buy Standing in Another Man's Grave by Ian Rankin at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Standing in Another Man's Grave by Ian Rankin at


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Patricia Oliver said:

Having delayed reading Exit Music because I knew it meant Rebus's retirement, I am delighted to see that John is still around and attached to the police force. Thanks, Ian Rankin, for not letting him go into that good night.