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Death Is Not the End: A Novella (Inspector Rebus Mysteries) Hardcover – June 7, 2000

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Editorial Reviews Review

Inspector John Rebus of Edinburgh's finest has been knocking readers' socks off for years, in 10 full-length police procedurals by Ian Rankin that star the thoughtful, intelligent Scot. In this neat little novella, he does in 73 pages what many of his peers take three times as long to do--set an interesting scene, solve a crime, develop a character, and allow him to grow and change without sacrificing either pace or plot. Agreeing to track down the missing son of his high school sweetheart and her husband, a friend of his youth, Rebus takes the reader into the gritty back streets and criminal byways of Edinburgh, following Damon Mee from the nightclub where he was last seen through gambling casinos, football matches, and face-to-face encounters with the mobsters who may have been involved in his disappearance. Along the way Rebus confronts his own mortality, the choices he's made, and the obligations he owes his past. The theme of vanishing was spun off from Dead Souls, a full- length novel; according to Rankin, he wrote this brief but fully-realized piece first, then cannibalized part of it as a sub-plot for Dead Souls, "while altering the histories of the characters involved so that both can be read independently." Which is why American fans who haven't yet read Dead Souls will pick it up right after this one. Death Is Not the End is short enough to read on a shuttle flight and still have time for a nap. But like Rankin's other solid Rebus stories, it will stay with you even after you wake up. --Jane Adams

From Publishers Weekly

Using a subplot from his last Inspector Rebus novel (1999's Dead Souls), Gold Dagger Award-winner Rankin demonstrates at novella length why his Edinburgh policeman stands at the forefront of contemporary detectives. When 23-year-old Damon Mee vanishes from Gaitanos, a popular Kirkcaldy nightclub, the young man's parents naturally ask Insp. John Rebus for help. The father went to school with Rebus, while the mother turns out to be the inspector's old flame Janis, "the only girl in his long and trouble-strewn life who'd ever managed to knock him unconscious." Locating a missing person suddenly becomes personal, as Rebus broods over the past, wondering what might have happened had he and Janis stayed together. Might the recently engaged Damon be having his own doubts about love and marriage? A stakeout of Gaitanos leads Rebus to Richard Mandelson, a shady casino manager who drives a gold Rolls-Royce. Meanwhile, Matty Paine, a croupier in Mandelson's employ, is under pressure from his boss to approach his friend Stevie Scoular, the star of the Edinburgh Rangers football team, about throwing their next game. When Rebus also asks Matty (whom he once got off a drunk-driving charge) for a favor, he finds his investigation taking an unexpected twist. Taut exposition, wry dialogue and deft plotting, together with an insider's view of the seedy underside of Edinburgh, combine to make a superior thriller, well deserving its status as part of the Criminal Records series of novellas, edited by Otto Penzler. (June)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Series: Inspector Rebus Mysteries
  • Hardcover: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; 1st edition (June 7, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031226142X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312261429
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,000,824 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By John DiBello on May 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover
If you've never read one of Ian Rankin's extraordinary John Rebus mysteries, "Death is Not the End" is a great introduction to the troubled Edinburgh detective and his dark world. On the surface, it's a police procedural (the Rebus books remind me of the also-excellent Bill James "Harpur and Iles" British police procedurals), but Rebus is such a loner, breaking out into his own investigations, that it's virtually a private detective novel as well. This imagery fits "Death is Not the End" especially well as the (intentional) echoes of Raymond Chandler and the theme of "vanishing"--from missing persons to long-lost youthful innocence--permeate Rankin's alcoholic, cigarette-addicted hero's search for the son of an old girlfriend. It's a quick read, but layered with such detail that this would make me want to read more Rebus mysteries even if I wasn't already a fan. I agree in part with the Kirkus Review above: this is pricey for a 74-page book, even a hardcover (this novella might have been better served by publishing it as trade paperback original). Rankin also re-used part of this plot for a recent novel ("Dead Souls"). Some may see this as a cheap excuse to get you to buy the same plot twice; I prefer to look at it as an interesting exercise in covering the same themes in a different manner and from different angles. It is by no means the best or definitive Rebus--one of the full-length novels must surely fill that role. Still, if you're a Rankin fan and completist you'll definitely want this one, and it makes a great introduction to suggest to your friends searching for a captivating crime series and a brilliant author.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Harnett VINE VOICE on July 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Ian Rankin writes crisp, dark, atmospheric police procedurals set in Edinburgh featuring Inspector John Rebus, a brooding loner with occasional regrets, given to bottling his strong feelings. Rankin's unadorned, complexly nuanced writing, his ability to breathe life into characters as much with what is not said as what is, makes the series a particular stand-out.
Since his novella "Death Is Not the End," focuses on a subplot in Rankin's 1999 novel "Dead Souls," I expected a sequel. But as Rankin explains in a note at the end, the novella was written first. The story concerns a missing young man, 23 years old, the son of an old highschool girlfriend. The narrative follows Rebus' investigation over much the same time period as "Dead Souls," though Rankin extended his investigation in the novel. And there is a different subplot featuring crooked casino operators.
New readers, or those who missed "Dead Souls" will enjoy the journey into Edinburgh's seamy side - the grim amorality of those who make their living from "punters" - and Rebus' exploration of his own past and the choices that have made him who he is.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on May 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Scotland-based Detective Inspector John Rebus works two cases. One involves the disappearance of the twenty-three year old son of a woman John once loved. John's boss Chief Superintendent Watson assigns him the task of providing a special birthday present: evidence to send Topper Hamilton to jail. John considers both cases personal for different reasons.

DEATH IS NOT THE END is a compelling dark police drama that keeps reader interest from the first page to the last. The story line contains a complex plot and deep characterizations than normally found in a novella, but not at the level found in Ian Rankin's novels. Although a short work, it retains a powerful punch, leaving fans with the dilemma of considering the price tag.

Harriet Klausner
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Alison MacDonald Duncan on May 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have read all of Rankin's novels and eagerly anticipated his latest. I was therefore doubly disappointed to receive a slight 70 page novella in the mail and then to discover that most of it was lifted from his last novel. Yes, a few pages are brand new, but that is hardly the point. I expected a new story and this was a rehash that appeared to have been hastily scribbled and patched together. For those who like Rankin, I'd give this one a miss and wait till he writes a real novel again.
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Format: Hardcover
"Death Is Not the End," (2000) is a 70-page novella. If you were counting, it would be ninth, and although by far the shortest, by no means least, in the Detective Chief Inspector John Rebus series, by the outstanding author Ian Rankin, currently the best-selling author of mysteries in the United Kingdom. Rankin was nominated for an Edgar Award for Black and Blue: An Inspector Rebus Mystery (Inspector Rebus Novels), for which he won England's prestigious Gold Dagger Award. This novella can, like most of his work, be described as a police procedural, within the tartan noir school, and it is set in Edinburgh, in contrast to most Scots mystery writers at work now. The east coast Edinburgh is more or less his home town; in comparison to the west coast Glasgow, it's a more beautiful, smaller city, the capital of the country, where you might expect the crime to be white collar, rather than blue, and bloody. But Rebus always seems to find enough to keep busy. Now, just what's tartan noir when it's at home, you ask? A bloodthirsty, bloody-minded business, to be sure, more violent than the average British mystery, but, thankfully, leavened a bit with that dark Scots humor. Written (duh!) by Scots.

"Death," in its brief length, gives us two subplots. Matty Paine, who'd worked his way around the world as a croupier, only to end up back in his old home town of Edinburgh, working in a mob-connected casino (are there any other kind?) His work and his friendships will put him in danger; Rankin will get a chance to bring his favorite mobster, Big Ger Cafferty, into the mix. This subplot might well be considered fairly insubstantial.
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