Rankin, Ian. Standing in Another Man’s Grave.

NY: Little, Brown, 2012.

DI John Rebus of Lothian and Borders police has been a copper for thirty-odd years — he’s the longest-serving member of the CID — but sixty is the mandatory retirement age and Rebus is now an ex-cop. Fortunately, the cold case review unit has a spot for him, so he takes what he can get. So one day he takes a call from a woman down south whose daughter disappeared eight years before, and who has never given up hope that the girl might still be alive. (You know where this is going, right?)

And she’s noticed that several other young women have disappeared over the years, all of them on or very close to a particular highway. And the most recent disappearance is still a very current case. There must be a connection, right? Rebus promises to take a look, even though that means meddling in things that are no longer any of his business — not that that has ever stopped him. Rebus is very much Old School, complete with two packs of Silk Cut a day and large quantities of whiskey. But he’s dealt with serial killers before.

Rankin has become very good at weaving numerous subplots around the main narrative thread, and he pulls it off again here. His long-time friend and partner, Siobhan Clarke, has been promoted to DI herself. She’s perfectly capable of running an investigation, but as the story develops, she finds herself again taking a back seat to her former mentor. And then there’s Malcolm Fox of “The Complaints,” what yanks would call “Internal Affairs.” (He’s had two novels of his own, now.) Fox is deeply suspicious of Rebus’s long association with crime boss Big Ger Cafferty, now semi-retired himself. He doesn’t like Rebus’s methods and regards him as the loosest cannon around — but even he has to admit that Rebus also has a long string of important arrests to his credit. He’s a dinosaur, but a good one — and Fox just can’t stand it. The whole issue of families and how they come apart for one reason or another, and lose touch with each other, is also a theme that drives Rebus to try to come to terms with his increasing distance from his grown daughter, Samantha. Finally, there’s the whole world of northern Scotland, which is a very different place from Edinburgh, as Rebus discovers as he puts lots of miles on his aging Saab. And each of these disparate storylines is just as engrossing as the central mystery.

It’s a complicated story and you’ll have to pay attention, but it’s very much worth the effort. And since the police are considering raising the retirement age, Rebus is likely to be back with the force before long.

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