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Exit Music    by Ian Rankin order for
Exit Music
by Ian Rankin
Order:  USA  Can
Orion, 2007 (2007)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

As Exit Music opens to an Edinburgh autumn, Inspector John Rebus is only twelve days away from retirement (hard to believe for the myriad of fans of this long-running series!) His regular partner, Siobhan, whom he has mentored for all of her career to date, will miss him but also looks forward to moving out of his shadow, earning her own reputation, and receiving her own recognition. Rebus himself has no clue how he will spend his time, his hobby being his job.

The story opens on the discovery of a badly bludgeoned body, which turns out to be that of internationally known Russian poet Alexander Todorov. The investigation leads police officers to a shady Russian magnate who is very cozy with both Scottish politicians and Rebus's longtime nemesis and 'big unfinished business', Big Ger Cafferty, who is on the surface a retired villain but still effectively runs Edinburgh. There are also accounts of a mysterious hooded woman at the scene.

One of the young constables at the murder scene, Todd Goodyear, is very keen, has 'Got his eyes set on CID' and convinces Siobhan to use him in her investigation (she's prime given Rebus's looming retirement and general unpopularity with his superiors). There's a history between the Goodyears and Rebus, as the latter put young Todd's grandfather in prison, where he soon died from a bad heart. Todd's brother Sol deals drugs for Cafferty. On quiet nights in his own time, an obsessive Rebus often drives round to watch Cafferty's mansion.

Of course, even with only a few days to go, Rebus gets himself into trouble. First it's with his superiors - he's suspended by the Chief Constable for not kowtowing to the rich and powerful. Rebus muses 'that it wasn't so much the underworld you had to fear as the overworld ... A few friends in the right places and deals got done, fates decided.' Then he gets in the way of the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency. And finally he comes under suspicion of a vicious attack whose victim might yet die.

Closing the book, I found it hard to believe that Rebus has really retired. Is it possible that he will leave Edinburgh - 'Bloodstained past meeting bloodstained present; Covenanters and commerce; a city of banking and brothels, virtue and vitriol ... Underworld meeting overworld'. Though Ian Rankin assures his multitude of fans in a recent Macleans interview that his 'cantankerous detective will not completely disappear from future pages', they will have to wait a while to see what the ex-policeman's exact role will be.

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