IAN RANKIN – Dead Souls. St. Martin’s Minotaur, hardcover, 1999; paperback, August 2000. Reprinted several times since.


   Rebus is not in good shape in this above-average entry in the Edinburgh series. He’s drinking again, his daughter is still recovering from a hit and run accident and is in a wheelchair. His friend Joe Morton has died, and the entire unit is reeling from the apparent suicide of DI Jim Margolies, bright and talented, on the fast track toward the top.

   The plot includes two missing persons, an eight-year-old boy and the 19-year-old son of childhood friends of Rebus; a surveillance of a convicted murderer, released from a US prison in the wake of an appeal of trial irregularities and returned to Edinburgh; and the relocation of a recently released pedophile that leads to Rebus’s being suspected of conducting a personal crusade against him.

   The convicted murderer has matured from an impulsive, opportunistic criminal to a calculating, clever game-player who threatens not only Rebus but everyone he cares about. Even as you tell yourself that the conjunction of difficult, challenging problems is the stuff of improbable fictions, you find yourself admiring Rankin’s ability to manage intricately connected plot lines.

   A superior, disturbing police procedural and thriller.

NOTE:   St. Martin’s has also published a section of the novel in hardcover as an $11.95 “novella” entitled Death Is Not The End. If I had read the front jacket flap material more closely, I wouldn’t have gotten suckered into buying this.