books · Fiction · reading

Standing in Another Man’s Grave by Ian Rankin


Retired. Haunted. Alcoholic. Smoker. Rebellious. Cheeky. Dark. Old School. And yet on the side of the law. Rebus is everything he has ever been and more as he takes the front seat in another great murder mystery by Ian Rankin.

Rebus is digging skeletons from closets, trying to fill his spare time with long-closed but unsolved cases instead of just liquor and music records. Boxes in a room with pages upon pages full of transcripts, notes and reports about victims who never got justice. His aim is to be back on the squad. The retirement age has taken  an upward swing and he is eligible again. Of course, the skeletons in his own closet mean he is under the strictest of scrutiny. A determined young officer is eager to see Rebus fall of the bandwagon. And yet, somehow, Rankin has you believe it’s a good idea to follow your dark and dangerous hero over to the other side and root for him when he’s on to the big stuff and cry with him when he turns back from his daughter’s door, choosing instead to call  her from miles away and being okay with just hearing her voice.

And then a mother comes into the picture. Convinced that her daughter, who had disappeared years ago, had actually been murdered by a serial killer. Almost nobody else had believed her but Rebus chooses to carry the box of files she claims are linked, back to his empty house and examine them at leisure.

While a hunch starts to take over him, another missing girl leads him to the conclusion that something isn’t right in these sporadic disappearances. And the ever-resourceful Siobhan Clarke is going to find that once more, having Rebus around would be as advantageous as it would be a pain-in-the-ass.

I just love how dark and deadly stories become in the hands of Rankin. He paints Edinburgh as a thriving, throbbing monster. He deals with Rebus with unforgiving bitterness and yet pulls him through in the end. I wouldn’t be very surprised if one of these days Ian Rankin decides Rebus has had a full life and must now fall to his own grave. I don’t expect a Sherlock-esque protest for rebirth. Rebus would just have to be a good man and stay dead.

In the meantime, retired or not, he is full of acid sarcasm and the best of crazy ideas as he chases murderers through the deep ends of Scottish country and her rain-drenched cities.

A slight complain from this book. Towards the end I was still expecting a more staggering truth to grasp me but that never came. There was one and only one conclusion and past it, I was left with a little bit more desire. That being said, Rankin’s books never fail to haunt me, at least for a night or two.

It’s just not another man’s grave every time, is it?

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