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Malcolm Fox

A Song for the Dark Times by Ian Rankin

John Rebus is just coming to terms with the changes in his life when he receives a phone call that has the potential to change everything. Contacted by his daughter, Sammy, who informs him that her husband has been missing for two days, his professional experience leads him to believe the worst. Knowing that his daughter will be the prime suspect, he heads off to the town where she lives, a town with secrets that even Rebus might think twice about uncovering. Meanwhile, back in Edinburgh, DIs Siobhan Clarke and Malcolm Fox are embroiled in a murder investigation, one that appears to have links to Rebus’s case…

Rebus is back and although retired from the police force, he is showing no desire to leave it behind. He may be suffering from COPD and having to adjust his lifestyle to deal with it, but Rebus is still keen to get involved in cases, often to the despair of his former colleagues. With his stack of unsolved case files, I think that Ian Rankin has the material to keep the former detective going for many years to come!

It’s been a while since we encountered Rebus’s daughter, Sammy, and although he doesn’t see her as often as he thinks he should, we get to see how much he cares about her when he drops everything to be at her side when her husband disappears. Although this part of the plot brought Rebus great heartache at times, I really enjoyed the humour he brought, especially when dealing with the local police. I liked the character of DS Creasey, and hope that he can, somehow, find himself involved in a later story line. I also found the historical aspect fascinating, discovering things about wartime Scotland that I was not aware of.

The second plot, the murder of a Saudi student, was equally as interesting with, seemingly, some connections to the investigation Rebus is undertaking. Since his retirement, we have seen more time being given to DIs Siobhan Clarke and Malcolm Fox, but Rebus still lurks in the background, providing help (or a hindrance) along the way. Perhaps the biggest shock for me, though was the discovery that Big Ger Cafferty (still my favourite character) is now the owner of a gin bar, having decided that it was more profitable than whisky! What would the Cafferty of old think about that?!

Twenty-three Rebus books in and Ian Rankin is showing no sign of losing his touch – it is clear to see why this has been top of the bestseller charts. Long may Rebus reign!

With thanks to Orion and Net Galley for my copy.

Rather be the Devil by Ian Rankin

imageForty years ago, Maria Turquand was found murdered in her hotel room on the same night that a famous rock star and his entourage were staying there. Despite the case being quite high profile at the time, no one was ever convicted of the crime. Now, with time on his hands, retired detective John Rebus is determined to solve the case. Meanwhile, in Edinburgh, local gangster Darryl Christie has been the subject of a vicious attack. Is the notorious Big Ger Cafferty involved or is Christie’s rumoured involvement in a large-scale money laundering scheme to blame?

Now a couple of years into his retirement, and despite his health being a cause for concern, it soon becomes apparent that Rebus is not going to be spending his twilight years relaxing. Unable to take a complete break from the job that consumed his life, his interest in the Maria Turquand case puts him, once again, in contact with his old colleagues Siobhan Clarke and Malcolm Fox. One of the more fascinating parts of these later books in the series (this is the 21st!) is the change in relationship between Rebus and Clarke. Once the superior officer, John must now rely upon his former subordinates in order to find out the information he needs.

Of course, one of the highlights for Rebus fans is the return of Gerald Cafferty. Like Rebus, he is seeing the younger generation take over his once thriving ‘business’ and, on the surface, he looks to be far removed from it. We have learned to never underestimate Big Ger, however, and the scenes between him and his nemesis, Rebus, are an absolute joy to read. There has always been a grudging respect between the two men and this is shown powerfully during the end scenes of the book when the life of one of the men looks to be in serious danger.

Ian Rankin has, again, produced a superb book which shows that, although Rebus may be advancing in years, there is still life in the old dog yet! After decades of reading this series, I dread the day Rankin decides that Rebus should hang up his boots for good.

With thanks to Net Galley and Orion Publishing Group for the ARC.

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