The New York Times
Exit Music (Inspector John Rebus Series #17)by Ian Rankin
It's late in the fall in
It's late in the fall in
Rebus discovers that an elite delegation of Russian businessmen is in town, looking to expand its interests. And as Rebus's investigation gains ground, someone brutally assaults a local gangster with whom he has a long history.
Has Rebus overstepped his bounds for the last time? Only a few days shy of the end to his long, controversial career, will Rebus even make it that far?
The New York Times
James MacPherson's home-grown Scottish burr is put to excellent use narrating Rankin's 17th and possibly best crime novel featuring Det. Insp. John Rebus of the Edinburgh police. At 60, it's retirement time for Rebus and, as expected, Rankin's rebellious series hero isn't going quietly. Not with the murder of a dissident Russian poet to solve and a career-long battle with local crime lord Big Ger Cafferty to close down. MacPherson easily conveys Rebus's gruff impatience, Cafferty's deeper, nastier menace and Det. Siobhan Clarke's brittle coolness. He even manages to lose the burr long enough to get past several Russian-thick accents. Though Rebus's mention of perusing his unsolved cases in retirement offers some hope of future sleuthing, this reads like a farewell novel. Along with its expected well-crafted procedural elements, Rankin has included several moments of wistfulness and regret, and MacPherson makes the most of every one of them. A Little, Brown hardcover (Reviews, July 7). (Sept.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
While John Rebus's legion of fans may be disappointed that this is the Edinburgh detective's last case, Edgar® and Gold Dagger® award winner Rankin (
Read an Excerpt
By Ian Rankin
Copyright © 2007
John Rebus Limited
All right reserved.
Chapter One The girl screamed once, only the once, but it was enough. By the time the middle-aged couple arrived at the foot of Raeburn Wynd, she was kneeling on the ground, hands over her face, shoulders heaving with sobs. The man studied the corpse for a moment, then tried shielding his wife's eyes, but she had already turned away. He took out his phone and called the emergency number. It was ten minutes before the police car arrived, during which time the girl tried to leave, the man explaining calmly that she should wait, his hand rubbing her shoulder. His wife was seated curbside, despite the nighttime chill. November in Edinburgh, not quite cold enough for a frost but heading that way. King's Stables Road wasn't the busiest of thoroughfares. A No Entry sign prevented vehicles using it as a route from the Grassmarket to Lothian Road. At night it could be a lonely spot, with not much more than a multistory car park on one side, Castle Rock and a cemetery on the other. The street lighting seemed underpowered, and pedestrians kept their wits about them. The middle-aged couple had been to a carol service in St. Cuthbert's Church, helping raise money for the city's children's hospital. The woman had bought a holly wreath, which now lay on the ground to the left of the corpse. Her husband couldn't help thinking: a minute either way and we might not have heard, might be heading home in the car, the wreath on the back seat and Classic FM on the radio.
"I want to go home," the girl was complaining between sobs. She was standing, knees grazed. Her skirt was too short, the man felt, and her denim jacket was unlikely to keep out the cold. She looked familiar to him. He had considered - briefly considered - lending her his coat. Instead, he reminded her again that she needed to stay put. Suddenly their faces turned blue. The police car was arriving, lights flashing.
"Here they come," the man said, placing his arm around her shoulders as if to comfort her, removing it again when he saw his wife was watching.
Even after the patrol car drew to a halt, its roof light stayed on, engine left running. Two uniformed officers emerged, not bothering with their caps. One of them carried a large black torch. Raeburn Wynd was steep and led to a series of mews conversions above garages that would once have housed the monarch's carriages and horses. It would be treacherous when icy.
"Maybe he slipped and banged his head," the man offered. "Or he was sleeping rough, or had had a few too many ..."
"Thank you, sir," one of the officers said, meaning the opposite. His colleague had switched the torch on, and the middle-aged man realized that there was blood on the ground, blood on the slumped body's hands and clothes. The face and hair were clotted with it.
"Or someone smashed him to a pulp," the first officer commented. "Unless, of course, he slipped repeatedly against a cheese grater."
His young colleague winced. He'd been crouching down, the better to shine light onto the body, but he rose to his feet again. "Whose is the wreath?" he asked.
"My wife's," the man stated, wondering afterwards why he hadn't just said "mine."
"Jack Palance," Detective Inspector John Rebus said.
"I keep telling you, I don't know him."
"Big film star."
"So name me a film."
"His obituary's in the Scotsman."
"Then you should be clued up enough to tell me what I've seen him in." Detective Sergeant Siobhan Clarke got out of the car and slammed shut the door.
"He was the bad guy in a lot of Westerns," Rebus persisted. Clarke showed her warrant card to one of the uniforms and took a proffered torch from the younger of the two. The Scene of Crime Unit was on its way. Spectators had started gathering, drawn to the scene by the patrol car's blue beacon. Rebus and Clarke had been working late at Gayfield Square police station, hammering out a theory - but no prime suspect - in an unsolved investigation. Both had been glad of the break provided by the summons. They'd arrived in Rebus's wheezing Saab 900, from the boot of which he was now fetching polythene overshoes and latex gloves. It took him half a dozen noisy attempts to slam shut the lid.
"Need to trade it in," he muttered.
"Who'd want it?" Clarke asked, pulling on the gloves. Then, when he didn't answer: "Were those hiking boots I glimpsed?"
"As old as the car," Rebus stated, heading towards the corpse. The two detectives fell silent, studying the figure and its surroundings.
"Someone's done a job on him," Rebus eventually commented. He turned towards the younger constable. "What's your name, son?"
"Goodyear, sir ... Todd Goodyear."
"Mum's maiden name, sir," Goodyear explained.
"Ever heard of Jack Palance, Todd?"
"Wasn't he in Shane?"
"You're wasted in uniform."
Goodyear's colleague chuckled. "Give young Todd here half a chance, and it's you he'll be grilling rather than any suspects."
"How's that?" Clarke asked.
The constable - at least fifteen years older than his partner and maybe three times the girth - nodded towards Goodyear. "I'm not good enough for Todd," he explained. "Got his eyes set on CID."
Goodyear ignored this. He had his notebook in his hand. "Want us to start taking details?" he asked. Rebus looked towards the pavement. A middle-aged couple were seated curbside, holding hands. Then there was the teenage girl, arms wrapped around herself as she shivered against a wall. Beyond her the crowd of onlookers was starting to shuffle forward again, warnings forgotten.
"Best thing you can do," Rebus offered, "is hold that lot back till we can secure the scene. Doctor should be here in a couple of minutes."
"He's not got a pulse," Goodyear said. "I checked."
Rebus glowered at him.
"Told you they wouldn't like it," Goodyear's partner said with another chuckle.
"Contaminates the locus," Clarke told the young constable, showing him her gloved hands and overshoes. He looked embarrassed.
"Doctor still has to confirm death," Rebus added. "Meantime, you can start persuading that rabble to get themselves home."
"Glorified bouncers, that's us," the older cop told his partner as they moved off.
"Which would make this the VIP enclosure," Clarke said quietly. She was checking the corpse again. "He's well enough dressed, probably not homeless."
"Want to look for ID?"
She took a couple of steps forward and crouched beside the body, pressing a gloved hand against the man's trouser and jacket pockets. "Can't feel anything," she said.
"Not even sympathy?"
She glanced up at Rebus. "Does the suit of armor come off when you collect the gold watch?"
Rebus managed to mouth the word "ouch." Reason they'd been staying late at the office so often -ebus only ten days from retirement, wanting loose ends tied.
"A mugging gone wrong?" Clarke suggested into the silence.
Rebus just shrugged, meaning he didn't think so. He asked Clarke to shine the torch down the body: black leather jacket, an open-necked patterned shirt that had probably started out blue, faded denims held up with a black leather belt, black suede shoes. As far as Rebus could tell, the man's face was lined, the hair graying. Early fifties? Around five feet nine or ten. No jewelry, no wristwatch. Bringing Rebus's personal body count to ... what? Maybe thirty or forty over the course of his three-decades-plus on the force. Another ten days, and this poor wretch would have been somebody else's problem - and still could be. For weeks now he'd been feeling Siobhan Clarke's tension: part of her, maybe the best part of her, wanted Rebus gone. It was the only way she could start to prove herself. Her eyes were on him now, as if she knew what he was thinking. He offered a sly smile.
"I'm not dead yet," he said, as the Scene of Crime van slowed to a halt on the roadway.
The duty doctor had duly declared death. The SOCOs had taped off Raeburn Wynd at top and bottom. Lights had been erected, a sheet pinned up so that onlookers no longer had a view of anything except the shadows on the other side. Rebus and Clarke were suited up in the same white hooded disposable overalls as the SOCOs. A camera team had just arrived, and the mortuary van was standing by. Beakers of tea had materialized from somewhere, wisps of steam rising from them. In the distance: sirens headed elsewhere; drunken yelps from nearby Princes Street; maybe even the hooting of an owl from the churchyard. Preliminary statements had been taken from the teenage girl and the middle-aged couple, and Rebus was flicking through these, flanked by the two constables, the elder of whom, he now knew, was called Bill Dyson.
"Rumor is," Dyson said, "you've finally got your jotters."
"Weekend after next," Rebus confirmed. "Can't be too far away yourself."
"Seven months and counting. Nice wee taxi job lined up for afterwards. Don't know how Todd will cope without me."
"I'll try to maintain my composure," Goodyear drawled.
"That's one thing you're good at," Dyson was saying, as Rebus went back to his reading. The girl who had found the body was called Nancy Sievewright. She was seventeen and on her way home from a friend's house. The friend lived in Great Stuart Street and Nancy in Blair Street, just off the Cowgate. She had already left school and was unemployed, though hoping to get into college some day to study as a dental assistant. Goodyear had done the interview, and Rebus was impressed: neat handwriting and plenty of detail. Turning to Dyson's notebook was like turning from hope to despair - a mess of hastily scrawled hieroglyphs. Those seven months couldn't pass quickly enough for PC Bill Dyson. Through guesswork, Rebus reckoned the middle-aged couple were Roger and Elizabeth Anderson and that they lived in Frogston Road West, on the southern edge of the city. There was a phone number, but no hint of their ages or occupations. Instead, Rebus could make out the words "just passing" and "called it in." He handed the notebooks back without comment. All three would be interviewed again later. Rebus checked his watch, wondering when the pathologist would arrive. Not much else to be done in the meantime.
"Tell them they can go."
"Girl's still a bit shaky," Goodyear said. "Reckon we should drop her home?"
Rebus nodded and turned his attention to Dyson. "How about the other two?"
"Their car's parked in the Grassmarket."
"Spot of late-night shopping?"
Dyson shook his head. "Carol concert at St. Cuthbert's."
"A conversation we could have saved ourselves," Rebus told him, "if you'd bothered to write any of it down." As his eyes drilled into the constable's, he could sense the question Dyson wanted to ask: What would be the bloody point of that? Luckily, the old-timer knew better than to utter anything of the kind out loud ... not until the other old-timer was well out of earshot.
Rebus caught up with Clarke at the Scene of Crime van, where she was quizzing the team leader. His name was Thomas Banks - "Tam" to those who knew him. He gave a nod of greeting and asked if his name was on the guest list for Rebus's retirement do.
"How come you're all so keen to witness my demise?"
"Don't be surprised," Tam said, "if the suits from HQ come with stakes and mallets, just to be on the safe side." He winked towards Clarke. "Siobhan here tells me you've wangled it so your last shift's a Saturday. Is that so we're all at home watching telly while you take the long walk?"
"Just the way it fell, Tam," Rebus assured him. "Any tea going?"
"You turned your nose up at it," Tam chided him.
"That was half an hour ago."
"No second chances here, John."
"I was asking," Clarke interrupted, "if Tam's team had anything for us."
"I'm guessing he said to be patient."
"That's about the size of it," Tam confirmed, checking a text message on his mobile phone. "Stabbing outside a pub at Haymarket," he informed them.
"Busy night," Clarke offered. Then, to Rebus: "Doctor reckons our man was bludgeoned and maybe even kicked to death. He's betting blunt force trauma at the autopsy."
"He's not going to get any odds from me," Rebus told her.
"Nor me," Tam added, rubbing a finger across the bridge of his nose. He turned to Rebus: "Know who that young copper was?" He nodded towards the patrol car. Todd Goodyear was helping Nancy Sievewright into the back seat, Bill Dyson drumming his fingers against the steering wheel.
"Never seen him before," Rebus admitted.
"You maybe knew his granddad, though ..." Tam left it at that, wanting Rebus to do the work. It didn't take long.
"Not Harry Goodyear?"
Tam was nodding in confirmation, leaving Clarke to ask who Harry Goodyear was. "Ancient history," Rebus informed her.
Which, typically, left her none the wiser.
Excerpted from Exit Music by Ian Rankin Copyright © 2007 by John Rebus Limited. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
Ian Rankin is a #1 international bestselling author. Winner of an Edgar Award and the recipient of a Gold Dagger for fiction and the Chandler-Fulbright Award, he lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, with his wife and their two sons.
- Edinburgh, London and France
- Date of Birth:
- April 28, 1960
- Place of Birth:
- Cardenden, Scotland
- Edinburgh University
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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This is #17, and possibly the final, in the police procedural series featuring Detective Inspector Jon Rebus and his partner Detective Sergeant Siobhan Clarke. The crime initially involves the murder of a Russian expatriate poet, who has taken up residence in Edinburgh, Scotland. The investigation expands to include another related murder and an attack on a local crime boss, Big Ger Cafferty. Street criminals as well as high standing financial and government leaders are equal suspects in this fast moving novel. The trail winds masterfully through a wonderfully detailed cast of characters who have motive and opportunity. This is reportedly Rebus's last case before he retires and his need to clear the details not only of this case, but of some long standing cases linked to a suspect in the current murder,border on obsession. DI Rebus is certainly worth another go round.
Rebus, of course, means a puzzle and the Scottish hero is an enigma. DI Rebus is on the edge of retirement as the novel opens. The case brings old friends and enemies across his path. I won't recap the plot except to say the finale leaves us guessing if the series is ending. Ian Rankin is a Scottish Hammett and writes probably the best cop stories from across the water. (Someone should put out a soundtrack of the music Rebus listens to. He has some of the most interesting musical tastes of any protaganist in detective fiction.)
This is the first Inspector John Rebus mystery that I have read. "Exit Music" by Ian Rankin is supposedly the last story to involve the inspector. Rebus is retiring from the Edinburgh police force, but must deal with the death of a Russian poet, politics, new policemen, an old rival, another murder and his retirement. Not knowing the character, it was hard for me to appreciate some of what was going on, but the mystery aspect is quite suspenseful and entertaining.
Never been there either. O.o ((gtgtb ttyt))
You just can't get any better than Rebus. Waited to read the last one till I knew he would return. Rebus is a well developed, believable, very imperfect character; you root for him even when he's at his antisocial worst. You want to call him and ask him over for a drink to listen to some of your favorite tunes. Plots are as fabulous as the genre requires. Rankin's writing is very engaging and smooth.
Nearing retirement, Detective Inspector John Rebus is savoring his last days and readying himself for the change. Edinburgh may become a different place once he loses the protection of his shield; old enemies and hurts have threatened to resurface. Rebus starts to prepare, ties up loose ends, and plans how to fill his days. Then ten days until Rebus's retirement, Rebus and Detective Sargent Siobhan Clarke suddenly land a brutal murder case. The victim is a dissident Russian poet. Though it looks like an mugging gone wrong, Rebus suspects that the death is somehow linked to the elite delegation of Russian businessmen that are looking to invest in Scotland. The murder raises questions and as Rebus digs further, he finds links to an old enemy. But there's growing pressure from local power brokers and politicians to solve the case quickly and quietly. How much can Rebus accomplish before his time is up? Review: Legendary Detective Inspector John Rebus is as difficult, prickly, and engaging as ever. Observant, persistent, and unafraid to overstep, Rebus takes us all over Edinburgh as he uncovers hidden relationships and pieces together the events of that fateful night. Working with the soon-to-be promoted DS Clarke and her new mentee Todd Goodyear, Rebus uses all tools and tricks, calls in favors, and takes us on a thrilling adventure. Engrossing and carefully crafted, Exit Music is a terrific final novel to a legendary series. It's hard to believe that DI John Rebus has retired for good. Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; First US Edition edition (December 2009), 530 pages. Review copy provided by the publisher.
Even though the storyline occasionally dragged, I was sorry to see the book end. I hope Rebus in Retirement gets a look.
For the first time he can remember Edinburgh Police Inspector John Rebus is worried about the future. In ten days, the long time cop is turning sixty, which means mandatory retirement although he does not feel ready to leave the force.------------- Still, Rebus plans to finish his last cases although he only has ten working days left. His prime investigation is the murder of Russian poet Alexander Todorov in which he and his associate Detective Sergeant Siobhan Clarke find no motive, but a horde of odd conspiracies bantered about that include Russian businessmen, Scottish bankers and local politicians rallying behind an independent Scotland. The case turns even more bizarre when a second homicide occurs the victim taped a recital of Todorov reading his work. Increasingly the inquiry points towards Edinburgh crime boss ¿Big Ger¿ Cafferty, but finding proof to pin two murders on the mobster in under ten days seem impossible.---------------- The investigation takes a back seat to Rebus¿ final police case before going into forced retirement. Thus, as good as the previous entries are, this may be the most personal as the emotions are high as fans wonder what will their hero do. EXIT MUSIC is an excellent complicated police procedural as the great John Rebus works what is his apparent last police case.------------ Harriet Klausner
For the first time he can remember Edinburgh Police Inspector John Rebus is worried about the future. In ten days, the long time cop is turning sixty, which means mandatory retirement although he does not feel ready to leave the force.---------- Still, Rebus plans to finish his last cases although he only has ten working days left. His prime investigation is the murder of Russian poet Alexander Todorov in which he and his associate Detective Sergeant Siobhan Clarke find no motive, but a horde of odd conspiracies bantered about that include Russian businessmen, Scottish bankers and local politicians rallying behind an independent Scotland. The case turns even more bizarre when a second homicide occurs the victim taped a recital of Todorov reading his work. Increasingly the inquiry points towards Edinburgh crime boss ¿Big Ger¿ Cafferty, but finding proof to pin two murders on the mobster in under ten days seem impossible.------------ The investigation takes a back seat to Rebus¿ final police case before going into forced retirement. Thus, as good as the previous entries are, this may be the most personal as the emotions are high as fans wonder what will their hero do. EXIT MUSIC is an excellent complicated police procedural as the great John Rebus works what is his apparent last police case.---------- Harriet Klausner
This is another well written Rebus adventure. I liked the treatment of solving the case against Rebus' impending retirement. Then there's still a "gotcha" at the end leaving you scratching your head and saying, "Wait a minute!".
I just finished Exit Music, and enjoyed it very much. I have read several of Ian Rankin's John Rebus mysteries, and will probably buy the rest and read them too. The Scottish setting and well developed personalities of the recurring characters make these books fun to read. Ian Rankin is a good writer who takes the time to paint vivid word pictures, adding to the flavor of reading his books. It wasn't a "can't put it down" book, but I always enjoyed returning to it!
Author keeps me interested in the story with different twists and turns. Doesn't read like your typical American mystery since the setting is in Scotland. I enjoy it so much I'm working on reading the entire series.
Dont have to much fun ☻