Exit Music" is apparently the 19th and last British mystery in the Inspector Rebus series that has made its author, Ian Rankin, the bestselling writer in Great Britain. Rankin has been considered among the founding fathers of tartan noir, and just what is that, you might ask? A branch of the British mystery thrillers category: written by Scots, (duh!); noted for ultraviolent mayhem, subversive dark droll Scottish humor; sheer bloody- mindedness; exemplified by Rankin and Val McDermid, both of the Edinburgh vicinity, and Denise Mina, of Glasgow. So, it's late autumn in Edinburgh, and very late in the career of Inspector Rebus, within days of his retirement, and he's just trying to tie up some loose ends before he goes. Then he catches a new case: a prominent Russian dissident poet has been beaten to death, his body dumped in the street. Is it just a coincidence that there's a group of prominent, Russian businessmen also in town, looking to invest in Scotland? And that the local powers-that-be want the lid kept on the case? Then a mysterious fire kills a witness to the poet's last public reading. And then, a local gangster with whom Rebus has had a long history is brutally beaten, too. So Rebus has quite a bit on his mind. Luckily, Rebus's detective skills are not at all rusty, and he's able to work his way through this complex case: or is it actually three separate cases? Rankin is a #1 international bestselling author. He has won the Edgar Award, also a Gold Dagger for fiction, and the Chandler-Fulbright Award. His skills aren't rusty, either, and he continues to give us some rich writing on Edinburgh and its environs, its flora and fauna, human and otherwise. His dialog continues to snap, his narrative writing to pop. Unfortunately, though, it does seem as if Rankin's energy and power are flagging a bit. Hopefully, he'll find a way to recharge his batteries, and continue to publish first-rate mysteries, even if they no longer star Inspector Rebus.
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