EXIT MUSIC - Ian Rankin

Reviewed By
Karen Chisholm

There is a mandatory retirement age of 60 in the Scottish Police Force, so Rebus is finally on his way out.  Weird really that with all the suspensions, life threatening events and the number of times that he's annoyed Siobhan to the point of shooting him, it's age that's going to see Rebus move on.  At the very least you'd think something spectacular.  Depending on how Rankin feels about his creation, I guess he could equally have killed him off with a massive whiskey, beer and fish and chip induced heart attack.  But Rebus is alive at the end of Exit Music and this is his retirement book - not his total end.

Starting off the book with the same first line of the first Rebus book, Knots and Crosses, Rankin proceeds to give Rebus a low-key, almost dignified final exit.  Well apart from a last minute suspension, the sniff of an allegation of an assault charge pending for a while, and an uncertain future that is.

The final case that Rebus and Siobhan handle is the bashing murder of a dissident Russian poet.  It looks like a mugging gone wrong, but there is a high-level Russian delegation in town, keen to bring business to Scotland and the local politicians and bankers are keen to get the investigation wrapped up and "put away" out of sight.  Big "Ger" Cafferty and his presence around the edges of the Russian delegation is just one more thing that makes Rebus suspect that there is a lot more to the mugging than it seems and a second, very brutal death, just seals the suspicion for Rebus.

There's an elegant balancing of focus in EXIT MUSIC.  Rebus isn't fading into the background, but then again Siobhan's not going anywhere either.  As Rebus is suspended and goes "solo" Siobhan steps out into the light just that little bit more and, bless her, she does her own bit of bucking authority in her own way.  She's definitely a bit quieter about the rebellion than the old dinosaur but she's just as effective.  The other elegant act of EXIT MUSIC is to cast a light on the delicate (and frequently lost) balance of politics and business, and just how much influence money can have in all the wrong and right places.  It's no co-incidence that Rankin has recently been in Melbourne as patron of the Crime and Justice festival (Crime Fiction and Social Justice issues being discussed), as the one thing that the Rebus books do so well is ask the reader to contemplate the subject matter - the circumstances in which the crime is committed and the criminals are created.

Finally Big "Ger" and Rebus.  There's a lot of unfinished business there.  Will Rankin go there, post retirement.  Who knows.  EXIT MUSIC tantalises but doesn't reveal.

Year of Publication

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?

Review EXIT MUSIC - Ian Rankin
Karen Chisholm
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Blog Exit Music, Ian Rankin
Karen Chisholm
Monday, November 12, 2007

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