Stalking a poisoner at the local zoo, Inspector John Rebus comes across a paedophile taking pictures of children. When the social workers claim he is there for legitimate educational reasons, Rebus is faced with a dilemma - should he be outed to protect local kids or given a chance to start anew? As the locals begin a hate campaign he gets a call from the past: the son of a friend has gone missing and no one else will make time to ask the right questions. And then a fragment of Scotland's criminal history is repatriated at the end of a life sentence for murder. Once more Rebus's cup of trouble runneth over and the ghosts of past misdeeds return to haunt Edinburgh's streets.
When an author as successful as Rankin has been with his tough and idiomatic Scottish thrillers, a problem sets in after several books: how to keep the formula fresh.
Rankin has delivered a powerful series of books featuring his beleaguered Detective Inspector John Rebus, and while never less than gripping, a certain tiredness seemed to be setting in. Thankfully, Dead Souls is a resounding return to form, with a plot as enjoyably labyrinthine as any Rankin enthusiast could wish for, and pithy dialogue that fairly leaps off the page. Stalking the streets of Edinburgh on the trail of a poisoner, Rebus hits upon a freed pedophile and his subsequent outing of the man leaves him with very mixed feelings. But another problem develops for Rebus: a convicted murderer has him in his sights for some lethal games. And the tabloid press lionizing of Rebus won't help him in this situation.
As always, Rankin is perfectly ready to tackle contentious issues--precisely the thing that gives his books their powerful sense of veracity. And Rebus, no longer in danger of having a soap opera-like accumulation of personal problems, seems as fresh and well-observed a character as in those first exhilarating books. Rankin has caught his form again, with even more assurance. --Barry Forshaw, Amazon.co.uk
Lynn Herron (United Kingdom) (2011/06/12):
From the back cover:
An Inspector Rebus novel: 10
A call from an old friend brings back memories and more than a little guilt for DI John Rebus...suddenly it seems Edinburgh's streets are crowded with the lost and forgotten.
Stalking a poisoner at the local zoo, Rebus hits upon a freed paedophile, camera in hand. Outing the man rouses the vigilantes and leaves Rebus with mixed feelings and another weight on his conscience. But the straw that looks like breaking Rebus's back comes coutesy of the US government. Feted by the tabloid press and put under Rebus's watchful eye, a convicted murderer is looking to play games with Rebus as his pawn...