Exit Music by Ian Rankin

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Exit Music by Ian Rankin

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: The final Rebus novel sees the retiring detective hunting the killer of a Russian dissident poet and in the frame himself for the assault on a local gangster. Recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 400 Date: September 2007
Publisher: Orion
ISBN: 978-0752868608

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In autumn 2006 DI John Rebus is due to retire, much to the relief of his superiors. With only days to go he and DS Siobhan Clarke are trying to clear some of his old unsettled cases when a dissident Russian poet is murdered in what looks very much like a mugging which went too far. A Russian delegation is in Edinburgh and local politicians and bankers are keen that the case should be wrapped up quickly and without too much intrusion into their affairs, but Rebus and Clarke think otherwise, especially when there's a second killing. To end a bad week, local gangster, 'Big Ger' Cafferty is brutally assaulted and Rebus is the prime suspect.

Recent Rebus novels have featured a current political hot potato. In Fleshmarket Close it was the plight of illegal immigrants. The Naming of the Dead covered the period of the G8 summit at Gleneagles in July 2005. In this, the final Rebus story, Rankin looks at the relationship between money and power in Scottish politics. It's insightful, sharp and unfortunately all too believable when you consider that the city might well be up for sale to the highest bidder. There's even a Russian billionaire who seems able to buy whatever - and whoever - he wants.

With a masterly stroke Rankin has achieved the near impossible. I'd always thought that Rebus' retirement would be dreadful, but in the end his departure seems appropriate. His irascibility and unpredictability began to seem a little out of place and rather than looking on him as a flawed genius he seemed more like a sad man past his best. Even past his best he's still good though, and there are flashes of the old genius, but there was one story line which I had worked out long before the denouement and that I thought was a little disappointing. In fairness I had someone completely different in the frame for the murder of the poet!

There's no denying though that this is a damned good story. Rankin's way with dialogue is legendary and apart from the slightly weak Cafferty assault storyline the plotting is as good as ever. The clues are all there, neatly woven in and the answer simple and obvious once you know where to look.

Am I sad to see Rebus retire? Yes and no. Rankin has produced some exceptional books in the series and there hasn't been one that I've failed to enjoy. Some of the earliest books - written twenty years ago - are weak in comparison with the complex plotting of the later novels but they're still a good read. It cannot have been easy to maintain the freshness of the story lines over such a period of time and with this latest novel I sensed something of the strain. I can only applaud Ian Rankin's decision to retire Rebus despite the fact that he's obviously a real money spinner. I'm less certain about his reported statement (The Observer, 2 September 2007) that he's now going to concentrate on writing for children.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy of this book to The Bookbag.

Another detective who should be coming up to retirement - his career in the police force has now spanned more than forty-three years - is Chief Inspector Wexford. In Not In The Flesh he's unearthed some very old bodies. Another detective to retire this year - because of the death of author Michael Dibdin - is Aurelio Zen. His final case is End Games.

Buy Exit Music by Ian Rankin at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Exit Music by Ian Rankin at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Exit Music by Ian Rankin at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Exit Music by Ian Rankin at Amazon.com.

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