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)
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