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  • Tracy Sherlock

Rebus causes havoc, must face the music

A Heart Full of Headstones

By Ian Rankin

Orion Books

The latest Rebus murder mystery by Scottish author Ian Rankin will please fans and new readers alike.

All of the usual suspects are there, including Rebus’s former co-workers, detectives Siobhan Clarke and Malcolm Fox (or Malky, as Rebus has taken to calling him), and uber-villain Big Ger Cafferty, who continues to terrorize, even from his wheelchair. There’s a quirky new character, Gabz, a DJ and the daughter of one of Morris Gerald Cafferty’s ex-girlfriends.

The Scots slang, the Edinburgh neighbourhoods, the drugs, crime and bent cops are all here, waiting to be gobbled up by eager readers.

Rankin has always written his Rebus books in real time, allowing Rebus to get older just like the rest of us. He’s been retired now for many years and is suffering from COPD and perhaps heart disease. But that doesn't stop him from causing havoc -- Headstones begins with Rebus in court, charged with a crime.

Rankin has written 25 Rebus mysteries, since 1987, and a dozen or so books outside the series. He has won four Crime Writers’ Association Dagger Awards, including the Diamond Dagger, Britain’s highest award for crime fiction. He’s won the Edgar Award and been shortlisted for the Anthony Award. He’s popular, and Headstones spent a few weeks at No. 1 on Vancouver’s bestseller list.

What I’ve always enjoyed most about Rankin’s work – aside from the joy of following Rebus around Edinburgh raising trouble – is Rebus’s thoughts, particularly while he’s listening to music. Here’s an excerpt from Headstones:

“As he drove towards Calder Road, Rebus thought about Clarke’s words: Everything’s fucked, isn’t it? Very often you’d be hard pressed to deny it. Yet he had the new Dean Owens CD on the car hi-fi, and a bottle of Caol Ila and Brillo waiting for him at home, plus a daughter and granddaughter who’d invited him to lunch on Sunday. Sometimes you had to focus on the small victories. Maybe that was what he would have told her in answer to her question.”

He's pondering on the state of the world, and how one should react to it, a quandary we all face, every day.

Enjoy the ride.

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