Rebus Returns – The Verdict

Posted: January 27, 2013 in Book Reviews

Ian Rankin standing I love novels that you just want to return to and Rebus’s return in ‘Standing in Another man’s Grave’ didn’t disappoint. I read it over a weekend; although I did find his curmudgeonly ‘Grumpy Old Manness’ a bit wearying. Retired and working cold cases, he feels old and unwanted. Then his cold case is linked to a new investigation and he pairs up with Siobhan Clarke to find the multiple murderer of young women. His methods are even more disreputable and he’s being watched by Rankin’s other police man – Malcolm Fox from The Complaints. Fox comes across as geeky and dogmatic. Not very attractive and not much like the Fox of Rankin’s two recent novels – who I rather like. OK he’s seen from Rebus’s POV – but still. In the TV programme ‘Arena’ Rankin’s editor wasn’t keen on finding Fox in this book and I’m not sure I am either.

Rebus’s relationship with Siobhan is interesting. At first he’s the subordinate, she’s a DI and he’s not even a police officer anymore and dependant on her for access to resources, but towards the end of the novel this relationship changes as she finds her leadership role frustrating and seeks the excitement of Rebus’s unorthodox methods to get a result. I think she’s probably blotted her copybook too – something Fox warned her about. I agree with the reviewer on the Amazon website that ‘there was always more to her character than Ian Rankin ever let out of the genie bottle. She deserves a run of her own – she has outgrown Rebus.’ But overall, I’m with Alison Flood in The Observer who points out the contrast between Rebus and Fox might prove problematic for Ian Rankin in future books: ‘Fox was a compelling hero in previous novels but he’s pallid in comparison with Rebus. Not to worry, though, because Rankin leaves the door wide open for more from his former DI, thank goodness.’

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