cover image Death is Not the End: An Inspector Rebus Novella

Death is Not the End: An Inspector Rebus Novella

Ian Rankin. Minotaur Books, $11.95 (73pp) ISBN 978-0-312-26142-9

Using a subplot from his last Inspector Rebus novel (1999's Dead Souls), Gold Dagger Award-winner Rankin demonstrates at novella length why his Edinburgh policeman stands at the forefront of contemporary detectives. When 23-year-old Damon Mee vanishes from Gaitanos, a popular Kirkcaldy nightclub, the young man's parents naturally ask Insp. John Rebus for help. The father went to school with Rebus, while the mother turns out to be the inspector's old flame Janis, ""the only girl in his long and trouble-strewn life who'd ever managed to knock him unconscious."" Locating a missing person suddenly becomes personal, as Rebus broods over the past, wondering what might have happened had he and Janis stayed together. Might the recently engaged Damon be having his own doubts about love and marriage? A stakeout of Gaitanos leads Rebus to Richard Mandelson, a shady casino manager who drives a gold Rolls-Royce. Meanwhile, Matty Paine, a croupier in Mandelson's employ, is under pressure from his boss to approach his friend Stevie Scoular, the star of the Edinburgh Rangers football team, about throwing their next game. When Rebus also asks Matty (whom he once got off a drunk-driving charge) for a favor, he finds his investigation taking an unexpected twist. Taut exposition, wry dialogue and deft plotting, together with an insider's view of the seedy underside of Edinburgh, combine to make a superior thriller, well deserving its status as part of the Criminal Records series of novellas, edited by Otto Penzler. (June)