Review

Standing in Another Man's Grave

by Ian Rankin

Rebus is back! Ian Rankin has appeased his fans and decided that, on the 20th anniversary of John Rebus’s appearance in the United States, he would bring him out of retirement. The detective finds himself floundering and decides to go to the cold case unit, known as the Serious Crime Review Unit (SCRU). He is not a cop anymore and has none of the authority he used to have. But he doesn’t seem to recognize this fact.

Siobhan Clarke also returns. She has been promoted to a Detective Inspector in the cold case unit and is doing very well. Rebus, of course, barrels into her office and life in the ways he used to. He acts as though he is still a DI, much to her chagrin and the evil eye of her boss. “No urgent cases required his attention: he worked with the long dead, murder victims forgotten by the world at large. There were eleven investigations on the books of the SCRU.” Some of the long gone go back to the 1940s.

"STANDING IN ANOTHER MAN’S GRAVE is one of Ian Rankin’s richest books.... The twists and turns here are certainly remarkable; they come at the reader seemingly out of nowhere to jolt the soul."

Rebus is a rogue cop. He bends the rules, pushes the boundaries of his investigations, and now, as a civilian with wild ideas, he seems out of control. But a woman whose daughter has disappeared near the A9 roadway has been “pestering” the police to listen to her story. She tries to convince them that several girls have vanished in this same place. Rebus listens and convinces the boss of MisPer to open the case again.

Rebus has not changed a bit, and Siobhan slowly moves into his space and becomes his ally in the face of his old enemies. She is nervous that her very “proper” boss will see that she is helping Rebus. She has been told more than once in her career that being Rebus’s protégé will only blacken her future as a copper.

As Rebus combs cold case files, he is still a pub man, and his old enemies do catch up with him. His former nemesis, "Big Ger" Cafferty, has now become a drinking partner. They haven’t forgotten the past, but at the moment no conflicts exist between them. And there is a new enemy on the scene, Malcolm Fox, of the Internal Affairs Division. He hates Rebus and is looking for any excuse to throw him out of the MisPer unit.

STANDING IN ANOTHER MAN’S GRAVE is one of Ian Rankin’s richest books. He still limns his characters in such a way that readers can practically see them in the flesh. The twists and turns here are certainly remarkable; they come at the reader seemingly out of nowhere to jolt the soul. He also manages to infuse Rebus with his old wit and savvy thinking. A soundtrack is always in the background in these novels, and this one has plenty of rhythm. Fans will be truly satisfied with this much-deserved return and can only hope that Rankin has a few more Rebus mysteries in him.

Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum on January 17, 2013

Standing in Another Man's Grave
by Ian Rankin

  • Publication Date: October 22, 2013
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books
  • ISBN-10: 031622460X
  • ISBN-13: 9780316224604