“There should be mess.
There should be fuss.
There should be blood.”
Any time John Rebus is around, there is mess, there is fuss and
there is blood. But maybe he is about to see the end of all that,
for retirement is just eight days away. Most cops would hope to
ease quietly from the ranks, spending their final days with the
department keeping as low a profile as possible. Undoubtedly,
Rebus’s superiors had hoped for that too. But Rebus is not
most cops. He cannot be likened to any cop, real or fictional. He
is enigmatic and unique, not to mention stubborn. He takes a right
turn when all indications say take a left. He pursues the unlikely
just because he has an intuition. And he never blindly follows
orders. Pity the man who calls himself John Rebus’s boss.
Fortunately, Detective Sergeant Siobhan Clarke strikes a nice
balance with her partner. She is ready to take the lead when Rebus
retires. In fact, one might even say she is eager. With Rebus on
the way out, she is put in charge of this latest investigation: the
murder of a famous Russian poet in the streets of Edinburgh.
Rankin opened the first book featuring DI Rebus with the same
sentence that opens the last in the series: "The girl screamed
once, only the once…." The girl screamed when she
stumbled upon the poet’s body. A couple returning from the
theater heard her panicked cries and stopped to help. When the
police arrived, the witnesses’ stories did not help much and
they seemed to be less than completely truthful. With the slimmest
of evidence, Rebus is off and running, intent on catching one more
killer before he hands in his badge.
A contingent of wealthy Russians is staying at a hotel not far
from where the poet ended up dead. They tend not to be especially
forthcoming when interviewed, leaning toward blatantly hostile.
Little do they realize that DI Rebus likes dealing with hostile
witnesses. He considers forceful extraction of information to be
high entertainment. Again striking a balance, DS Clarke employs a
much different interview technique from Rebus. Despite their
divergent styles, she cannot help but admire his results, and he
reluctantly admits that she might be okay on her own.
So far, Rebus has been defined by his career. How will he
survive retirement? His cases always seem to get complicated. There
is usually more than meets the eye, or, in this case, maybe less
than meets the eye. As Rebus tries hard to implicate his long-time
nemesis Big Ger Cafferty in a last, desperate effort, an uneasy
respect settles between the two men. But uneasy is precisely what
it is. Edinburgh can be a small town when big crime flexes its
muscles. Mix in Russian businessmen hungry for easy investment
opportunities, and the result is explosive.
Not only does Rebus and, by extension, Clarke have to battle the
bad guys, but there are those within the department who are more
than anxious to see the end of John Rebus. Whether he wants this
retirement or not, it’s coming. If only he can make a grand
Ian Rankin’s fans will rue the day that he decided to end
the Rebus series. Is it reasonable to hope that maybe the detective
inspector may not leave the department after all? Or could it be
that we will visit John Rebus in his retirement, begrudgingly
summoned to help on an impossibly tough case? EXIT MUSIC has all
the earmarks of the last book. We can only hope that Rankin will
reconsider. More. We want more.
Reviewed by Kate Ayers on January 21, 2011