cover image A Heart Full of Headstones: A John Rebus Novel

A Heart Full of Headstones: A John Rebus Novel

Ian Rankin. Little, Brown, $28 (336p) ISBN 978-0-316-47363-7

Edgar winner Rankin’s outstanding 24th John Rebus novel (after 2020’s A Song for the Dark Times) opens dramatically with the Edinburgh detective, officially retired but still working, in the dock charged with a crime that’s not revealed until the very end. Flashbacks show familiar characters from Rebus’s world pursuing various agendas. Organized crime kingpin Morris “Big Ger” Cafferty, an old adversary of the detective, asks Rebus to find a man he wronged, but Rebus still has eyes on taking down Cafferty. Det. Insp. Siobhan Clarke, a former colleague of Rebus’s, is investigating a policeman accused of domestic abuse who threatens to expose a culture of police corruption (“Skeletons are about to come tumbling out of closets”). Malcolm Fox, a loathsome, ambitious detective inspector, wants to contain that threat’s collateral damage. Every thread leads to murder. The well-constructed plot is matched by brooding, atmospheric prose (Rebus has “spent his whole life in... a city perpetually dark, feeling increasingly weighed down, his heart full of headstones”). This is one of Rankin’s best Rebus novels in years. Agent: Dominick Abel, Dominick Abel Literary. (Oct.)