cover image Even Dogs in the Wild

Even Dogs in the Wild

Ian Rankin. Little, Brown, $26 (352p) ISBN 978-0-316-34251-3

In Rankin’s uneven 21st John Rebus novel (after 2013’s Saints of the Shadow Bible), the Edinburgh police hire the retired cop in a “consultative capacity” to work with former partner Siobhan Clarke on the murder of Lord Minton, a lawyer found beaten to death. It looks like a home invasion until the police find a note: “I’m going to kill you for what you did.” A similar note is received by Edinburgh crime boss “Big Ger” Cafferty, shortly before someone takes a shot at Cafferty. Some Glaswegian gangsters moving into Edinburgh at the start causes some confusion, and Malcolm Fox, the lead of another Rankin series, appears on the scene. Fox, who’s now a detective and no longer with Complaints (Scotland’s Internal Affairs), may be meant as a kind of Rebus alter ego, but he’s just too milquetoast to hold any interest. When Rankin finally gets to his real narrative, involving a former home for juvenile delinquents, the pace picks up considerably. Fans will hope for a return to form next time. (Jan.)