Ian Rankin's Rebus is single-minded in his pursuit of the truth about a group of missing women along the A9, one of Scotland's highways to its North. Rebus is retired, and while working cold cases he spots a pattern among a few missing women. Is he imagining things? Is this his way of coping with no longer being in the game? Is he still the man he once was? And once he is back in the game, can he navigate the new world with Twitter, Facebook, and detectives and bad-guys who were in nappies when he was on the job? There are parts of this book that I had to read twice because I was laughing so hard. The dialogue between Rebus and Clarke is often quick, a sort of parry-and-thrust: "‘Porn?’ ‘Some.’ ‘Hard core?’ ‘No S and M, if that’s what you mean.’ She looked at him again. ‘This from the man who doesn’t rate profilers.’ ‘Common sense comes cheaper.’" It is hard for me not to like Rebus even when he is being unlikeable; after all, his methodology is sound once he understands the crime (usually murder). First, find and study the victim. Second, find the intersection of the murderer and the victim. Third, use the first two points to narrow down the list of suspects. Fourth, beat the bush and make a lot of noise, then look for a someone who doesn't move; after all, only the murderer knows the full story. You've got to like a querulous curmudgeon who can
scrap with a suspect, and then invite him up to his apartment for a wash, a cup of tea, and a wee chat. "‘I’m sorry,’ Rebus said. ‘But someone would have asked eventually.’ Hammell nodded slowly. He saw that Rebus had extended a hand across the table. With no great enthusiasm he took it, and the two men shook."
I hadn't read an Ian Rankin in years, but spotted this one that features Rebus and grabbed it. Rebus here is not with the police exactly. He is a civilian working for the police, specifically a unit that investigates cold cases. When he meets a woman, Nina Hazlitt, trying to link her daughter's disappearance years before with several other missing women, one of which is a new case, he becomes intrigued and listens to her story enough to request the case files for the earlier women. All disappeared along the A9 highway.
With what he has learned, he approaches the detective on the current case, who just happens to be an officer he worked with closely, Siobhan Clarke, to convince her to explore the link between these old cases and her own. Not to mention get him involved back on a current investigation.
But Fox in the Complaints department also has his eye on Rebus, and notes his relationships with supposedly retired crime boss Ger Cafferty, and current crime boss Frank Hammell, who is also linked to the latest girl to disappear.
I like the way music, lyrics and song titles play roles in these books, and this one has several instances of that. I also like the way Rebus relies on his instincts and finds ways to prove that those instincts are spot on, even if it means breaking the rules. Rebus truly cares about the victims and pushes himself to try different approaches to a case. Seems like there is hope for more from Rebus after all.
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