Its 25 years since John Rebus appeared on the scene, and 5 years since he retired. But 2012 sees his return in Standing in Another Man’s Grave. Not only is Rebus as stubborn and anarchic as ever, but he finds himself in trouble with Rankin's latest creation, Malcolm Fox of Edinburgh's internal affairs unit. Added to which, Rebus may be about to derail the career of his ex-colleague Siobhan Clarke, while himself being permanently derailed by mob boss and old adversary Big Ger Cafferty. But all Rebus wants to do is discover the truth about a series of seemingly unconnected disappearances stretching back to the millennium.
The problem being, no one else wants to go there - and that includes Rebus's fellow officers. Not that any of that is going to stop Rebus. Not even when his own life and the careers of those around him are on the line.
James MacPherson played DCI Jardine in Taggart for 16 years, and has acted on stage in plays as diverse as The Taming of the Shrew and ART by Yasmina Reza. He has presented a regular books programme for Radio Scotland - for which he has interviewed Ian Rankin. He won a Spoken Word Gold Award for his reading ofStrip Jack, a Crimefest Audible UK Sounds of Crime Award for Doors Open and has narrated all the Ian Rankin Rebus books. James lives in Glasgow.
©2012 John Rebus Ltd (P)2012 Orion Publishing Group
Narrative makes the world go round.
Any avid Rankin reader must wonder what would happen in a universe where Rebus and Fox coexist. Rankin manages what most writers attempting similar cross-overs don't do well: he permits them to meet in a credible way. However intriguing that is, it's a minor part of the story. They cross paths in a typical Rebus case.
I had missed the announcement that a new Rebus was in press, so this appearance on Audible delighted me and set up great expectations, especially after the classic Exit Music. While Standing…Grave is a welcome, credible and solid return for Rebus, the novel doesn't rank as one the best on the series. But Rebus is back, still ageing in real time and dealing with his demons. And it sounds like he's here to stay for further detection of crime and complacency. If this is a first Rebus novel for you, start with an earlier one to better appreciate ongoing elements like debate on Scottish nationalism and complicated relationships with Siobhan Clarke, Big Ger Cafferty, authority figures and mortality.
Happily, happily, "in this geographical region", this time we get narrator James Mcpherson for an unabridged Rebus. If your ear isn't used to a Scottish burr, take some time to adjust because he seems to me the perfect voice for Rebus - not an intellectual detective, but a clever, wiley, gritty, witty one.
Rebus is not the kind of protagonist I usually like, but Rankin creates him and his Edinburgh with some kind of addictive writer's magic. McCall Smith does Dr Jekyll; Rankin, Mr Hyde (on the road to redemption).
it was a great story, well told and well narrated. i always enjoy the depth of the character that Rankin puts together and the dialog between them is exceptional
No but it didn't need to
I had to drive 1500km in 3 days in the Australian outback so it was great company. It got me from Charleville to Cunnamulla going a long way round.
It did the job nicely thank you.
Love having someone read me a story. Fires in the hearth, rain on the roof, sunny days and surf. Good friends, good food and J S Bach.
James Macpherson is reading an unabridged Rankin. Yes!
Rebus is back with us. Yes!
The unsolved units are not new and have been employed by lots of other crime writers.
Same old Same old. No!
While the Unsolved Unit forms a backdrop for this story, what stands out is how retirement has altered Rebus's lifestyle.
Could this be a mature Rebus? A more self reflecting Rebus? Has he lost his twinkle? And, are his relationships with Big Cafferty and Siobhan Clarke altered?
Can we hope for more Rebus from Rankin and Macpherson?
What really stands out in this latest Rebus novel is the variety of characters among the detectives and the criminals. A common theme in both groups is the old guard being replaced by the new. But Ian Rankin doesn't waste his words or your time overdoing the personal details; he gets on with telling an intriguing story. Unlike lesser writers, he doesn't contrive a cliffhanger at the end of every chapter, but there are enough twists and turns to keep you baffled. I've only read one of the previous Rebus novels, so don't worry if this is your first encounter with Inspector Rebus. You don't need to read all the other sfirst, but I guarantee you'll want to read more of them once you've tried this one. The Scottish accent took a little getting used to, but it was appropriate. So bear with it, and it will repay your effort.
Nor as action oriented as in his younger days, but wile and wit are still there. Hoping for more...still one of my favorites.
I much prefer the audible version. I took it every where so I did not need to interrupt flow.
Thoroughly enjoyed this reading. The pace was perfect and the story entertaining. Off to source another similar title right away!
"Great - In Parts!"
Great to see Rebus back. Was really looking forward to this one. Didn't quite live up to my expectations. Same old cantankerous Rebus and the author has great fun with the character as usual. Great plot too but, for me, the key connections identifying the baddie were less than convincing and spoiled the storyline a little.
If this book were Christmas hamper it would be 95% packaging and 5% content. The author seems mostly focused on what people are 1. Eating 2. Drinking 3. Thinking to themselves. None of which has anything to do with the plot. It takes far too long to get to the end and when you do it is a big disappoint. Sorry Ian: you must do better next time.
"Rebus and the A9"
Yes. It is interesting to see how Ian Rankin manages Rebus' come-back, after retirement, and how well Rankin handles the A9 as a location.
Although it is a pleasure to hear about Rebus in what passes for retirement, his role is barely contained by the story.
Scenes on the A9.
It could be a late episode the the most recent series, but it would be difficult to have a follow-up, just as it will be difficult for Ian Rankin to write his next (and final?) Rebus novel.
It is hardly surprising that Ian Rankin could not resist bringing former DI John Rebus back, here in Standing in Another Man’s Grave (2012) and in Saints of the Shadow Bible (2013), a book I look forward to reading. Rebus is almost irresistible as a character: a hard-boiled detective type, invented in the United States but given a tough Scottish edge over twenty-five years of Rebus books. And kept up to date, less in the types of crime portrayed -- these remain a mix of the violent and bizarre -- and more in the changes in policing. In Standing in Another Man’s Grave, there is a clash with Rankin’s more recent lead-character, Malcolm Fox, head of “the Complaints”, the internal investigation service which pursues corrupt police officers, and also, less aggressively, with two upwardly-mobile male-officers, both of whom could easily be middle-managers in a corporation, and a more sympathetic but still orthodox very senior officer, a woman. Between Rebus and these police officers, Rankin locates Siobhan Clarke, Rebus’ former colleague and now promoted herself to DI. She is the value-centre of the novel. For his come-back, Rebus is a civilian in the equivalent of the cold cases unit featured regularly on British television in a series called New Tricks, but he gets seconded to his old detective unit at Gayfield Square when he spots a possible connection between a very old cold case and a series of recent and current murders. The connection turns out to be a road, the A9, and some mysterious photographs of landscapes in the far north of Scotland.
Bringing a character back runs the risk that the character becomes over-exaggerated, in effect the raison d’être for the novel. In Standing in Another Man’s Grave this is a shortcoming, to the degree that the story constantly needs to accommodate Rebus in his semi-official role, and he is the least accommodating of characters. Again, Clarke is central and, in the rather contrived but still exciting conclusion, opts for Rebus’ way, as more “fun” than that of the bureaucrats. Mostly, though, the wonderful dialogue between Rebus and other characters, particularly Clarke, carries the sometimes awkward story. Rebus can be very funny, indeed, though, here, the humour additionally highlights Rebus getting older but certainly not more temperate, as he faces up to the prospect of complete retirement. Interestingly -- given Rebus’ preference for face-to-face contacts over electronic ones -- the story is taken forward by a succession of texts and calls made on and to Rebus’ mobile, together with his acknowledgement of the contribution made to the investigation by a young female detective, who is an expert with various forms of social media. The critical meetings, though, are with his old adversary Big Ger Cafferty, and other gangsters.
Aside from the pleasure of hearing Rebus comment on new ways of doing things and on the people who surround him, particularly in the police force, the greatest achievement of Standing in Another Man’s Grave has to do with the geography of the A9 and its environs. Rankin catches the life of that road: the interminable road works and the mix of Scottish and East European workers; the criss-crossing of the far north by lorry drivers and travelling salesmen, one, in particular, selling “solutions”, a notion that intrigues Rebus; and the stopping places: cafes, hotels, pubs and bars, and petrol stations. Then there is the sublime scenery of the Highlands, which contrasts with the dreary built environment yet is also the site of burials and the shallow grave of the title. Rankin’s choice of title is cleverly caught up with the plot and with Rebus’ return, replete with his deeper worries about what lies ahead for him through and after retirement. As such, the title plays to the return of Rebus and, to that extent, underplays the compelling portrayal of Scottish urban, sub-urban and rural society, and the road which connects them.
I am a great Rebus fan and was of course delighted to see him back, but I must admit I was a little disappointed with this book. I felt that by combining Malcolm Fox and Rebus neither of them was really done justice. Towards the end I even found my interest in the eventual solution flagging somewhat. However, to be fair, Rankin has set the bar very high in the past, and this book was enjoyable, just not quite up to his usual brilliant standard.
The plot was as good and as downbeat, as whisky-soaked and tobacco-stained as any Ian Rankin but as soon as I started listening I remembered this narrator's irritating habit of pausing after he said 'Rebus' which he seemed to do every single time and after a while this started getting in the way of the plot which was a shame because otherwise his accents and reading was good.
Rebus is from Fife and the series is very much East of Scotland focused. To have a former star of Taggart read and interpret this book in a West of Scotland accent does not work. The readers style is slow and boring, I only suffered a couple of chapters and decided just to read the book. As an ex L & B Police Officer, I have some insight and hear Rebus in a different Scots dialogue.
"Rebus has had his day"
Not a lot.... The ending is telegraphed very early on in the story....these become easy to spot if you've read the other Rebus books. It was long drawn out and even though I had it on audio it was a struggle to stay with it to the end. Had it been in hard back I don't think I could have stuck with it.
It's a well tried and tested format if somewhat predictable now
No more Rebus please..... Let's remember him as he once was, intuitive and exciting not as a bitter predictable old man
"It's Rebus ergo it's a great read"
Definitely. Ian Rankin is a first rate story teller. His characters are all very real, his plots brilliant and with Rebus as the main character, you know your in for a great read.
Ah if I answered this question I would spoil the story.
Listening to the story makes the characters more alive. It bring another dimension the the plot. My imagination contours up the pictures the voice completes the experience. James McPherson is first rate actor, a natural Rebus. However he has such a range of voices and dialects you forget it is one person reading.
Both, as a mother I cannot even begin to imagine how I would feel if my child went missing. As for Rebus's digs at his boss, well enough said.
So glad Rebus didn't take up golf or fishing. I just hope Ian Rankin can find more crimes for him to solve, before he dies of alcohol poisoning,
"Another great Rebus"
I wondered how Inspector Rebus would work in Audible. No worries! The story is just as good as the others and the narrator is fantastic.
"Gripping, entertaining and just all around an excellent read."
JR's fatalistic attitude to life, his cynicism, sarcasm and general sense of resignation and disillusion give his character a refreshingly honest quality... The characterization generally is good, the plot is strong and consistent, the style is entertaining. Good escapist fiction, and like all good escapist fiction the story points out the dark irony of real life.
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