On holidays this week (or at least himself is, although having your head stuck in a fire prevention system making sure it's all working for a week might not be some people's idea of a holiday....) but one of the bonuses is that over the weekend I read EXIT MUSIC.
If you're not a fan of Ian Rankin's all I can say is you've got something to look forward to. EXIT MUSIC is the book in which Rankin's central character - Rebus - retires from the police force. In the past we've had a few major series that have finished - Zen when Michael Dibdin himself died; Frost when R.D. Wingfield died (although there is one more book to come in that set); Morse when Colin Dexter killed off the central character in a final, moving, memorable book; and now Rebus - Rankin has retired him from the police force. Not before he finds out the truth behind the violent death of a Russian poet and a fatal house fire in which a sound recordist dies. Not before one final hurrah in which Rebus spends his last few days "on the force" suspended for telling a senior officer exactly what he thought. Not before he gets Siobhan to skate, once again, on very thin ice for him. Not before one final encounter with Big Ger Cafferty.
The book was a bitter sweet experience - as good as any Rankin book could possibly be - as page turning, as laugh aloud, as good a character study as ever. And yet - is this the last. So you turn the pages as slowly as you can and you try to remind yourself that all good things come to an end - and you rememeber purposely that you've read EXIT MUSIC out of order and you've squirrelled away two previous books so that, at least in your mind, Rebus isn't finished.
And you just have to acknowledge that Rankin can write a story that even when you don't want it to end, you don't want to not finish it.
It's late autumn in Edinburgh and late autumn in the career of Detective Inspector John Rebus. As he tries to tie up some loose ends before retirement, a murder case intrudes. A dissident Russian poet has been found dead in what looks like a mugging gone wrong. By apparent coincidence a high-level delegation of Russian businessmen is in town, keen to bring business to Scotland. The politicians and bankers who run Edinburgh are determined that the case should be closed quickly and clinically.
But the further they dig, the more Rebus and his colleague DS Siobhan Clarke become convinced that they are dealing with something more than a random attack - especially after a particularly nasty second killing. Meantime, a brutal and premeditated assault on local gangster 'Big Ger' Cafferty sees Rebus in the frame. Has the Inspector taken a step too far in tying up those loose ends? Only a few days shy of the end to his long, inglorious career, will Rebus even make it that far?