Rankin, Ian. Set in Darkness.

NY: St. Martin, 2000.

It’s 1998 and Scotland is about to have its own parliament for the first time in three centuries. What this means for the property development industry in Edinburgh, of course, is publicly funded construction and lots of it, plus all the new commercial office space and luxury flats the new Members of Parliament are going to demand. And much of this is taking place in the professional territory of DI John Rebus, whose patch includes Holyrood House.

His boss, who is about to retire, is just trying to keep Rebus on the back burner and out of trouble for his own few remaining months, but then a twenty-year-old desiccated body turns up behind a wall in Queensberry House while it’s being refurbished. It’s a very cold case, but it’s obviously a murder, so Rebus starts poking around. Unfortunately, he’s also been lumbered with the young DI Linford, a hot up-and-comer from the Crime Squad and the apple of the Assistant Chief Constable’s eye.

About this same time, DC Siobhan Clarke, whose career Rebus has long overseen with a semi-fatherly eye, is trying to track down and identify a serial rapist who has been making life unpleasant for women in the city’s singles clubs. Then she gets sidetracked herself when she witnesses the suicide of a homeless man and has to file a report — only the deceased turns out to be worth a very large sum of money. Now Siobhan has a mystery of her own to sort out.

And just as the reader is beginning to settle in with these two plotlines, a third one pops up: One of the likely new Members of the Scottish Parliament is found murdered on the Queensberry House construction site. This one, of course, gets the media’s full attention, especially since he’s a member of one of the country’s best known political families.

It’s a complicated set of plots which, of course, will eventually merge into a single big pile of problems for Rebus. Not even counting the ambitious and rather arrogant Linford, who turns out to have some psychological problems himself. And not counting the sudden reappearance of “Big Ger” Cafferty, whom Rebus put in prison several books ago, but who now is back to take up the reins in running the city’s underside. An excellent installment in the series.


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