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Exit Music by Ian Rankin
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Exit Music (original 2007; edition 2010)

by Ian Rankin

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1,559434,699 (3.84)73
Member:Zelda43
Title:Exit Music
Authors:Ian Rankin
Info:Back Bay Books (2010), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 448 pages
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Exit Music by Ian Rankin (2007)

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The creators of popular fictional detectives have always been faced with a taxing dilemma. Do they allow their characters to age in (or at least close to) real time, or do they leave them in an eternal prime, letting neither age weary them nor the years condemn. Prime examples of the latter approach might be Chief Inspector Wexford, who has been solving crimes in Ruth Rendell's novesl for nigh on fifty years, or Commander Adam Dalgleish, the former poet who investigated numerous murders in the pages of the recently deceased P D James's books.

Colin Dexter veered towards the former approach with Chief Inspector Morse, and prior to his eventual death in 'The Remorseful Day' he went through a diabetes-led decline in health chronicled in 'Death is Now My Neighbour' and 'The Wench is Dead'. Morse did, however, leap fully formed from Dexter's brow, already exhibiting a querulous middle age and bearing the rank of Chief Inspector in his first outing in 'Service of All the Dead'.

Ian Rankin showed greater verisimilitude with his creation, the 'thrawn' Inspector John Rebus, and in the seventeen novels that featured Rebus up to 'Exit Music' he aged in real time, grappling to accommodate new technology and the comings and goings of his colleagues. Rebus has, however, gone through various changes. I seem to recall that in one of the earliest novels in the canon (was it 'Hide and Seek' or 'Tooth and Nail') he was a jazz aficionado and a bit of a wine snob. Thereafter Rebus's prickly personality became clearer in Rankin's mind and crystallised into the character that has become one of the most popular of British fictional detectives. The Rebus books are all well-crafted, blending the almost schizophrenic nature of Edinburgh itself (with an all too thin patina of grace and elegance covering a seamy subculture of crime, grime and sordidness never far below the surface) with tautly plotted stories and a policeman who seldom runs away from confronting his own demons, though that particular internal conflict is seldom resolved.

As 'Exit Music' opens, Rebus is nearing retirement, with only another ten days to go before he hands in his warrant card and leaves the force. True to form, and contrary to what might have been expected, he is not slowing down or easing himself out of the saddle gently. On the contrary, he is as agitated and haunted as ever, depressed because, despite his fiercest efforts over the last two decades, he knows that he has not succeeded in taking down local crime boss Maurice Gerald Cafferty who, as 'Big Ger' has run the city, holding the reins on organised crime all across the Scottish capital.

On a freezing night in December 2006 a young woman and a rich banker out with his wife simultaneously come across a still bleeding body on the pavement of a back street now far from the glamorous heart of the city, just outside a multi-storey carpark. The police are called and the corpse is taken away for forensic investigation, where he is identified as that of Alexander Todorov, a celebrated Russian poet, who has made a name for himself on the back of his dissident views, which he is seldom slow to share with anyone who would listen. Is it a coincidence that the city is currently playing host to a visit of Russian dignitaries and leading business investors, many of whom had been publicly vilified by Todorov. It is clear that a number of high-raking business and commercial transactions are at a delicate stage, and politicians and bigwigs are eaer to stifle any public speculation about the murder, and to ascribe it to a 'mugging gone wrong'.
It is clear that the investigation should be handled by someone well-versed in tact, diplomacy and sensitivity. As luck would have it, the case is assigned to Rebus, so it is only a matter of time before sensitivities are outraged, and the 'high heid yins' are baying for his removal.

This is Rankin and Rebus at their best. The plot is involved with the whole range of Rebus's behemoths running riot. He clashes with politicians from Holyrood and Westminster, local councillors and the Lord Provost, senior politicians and also the highest hierarchy of bankers - one of the principal organisations that comes under Rebus's scrutiny is 'First Albannach Bank' (FAB), which bears ore than a little similarity to the Royal Bank of Scotland before its hubristic fall into ignominy following the international economic crisis of 2008. In the meantime Rebus is still pursuing his personal quest against Big Ger.

Marvellously crafted, and authoritatively written, this proved a worthy swan song for Rebus from his career on the force. ( )
  Eyejaybee | Jan 28, 2015 |
Final book in the Rebus series. Great ending and to the series - but probably not for everyone's taste. A Russian poet is murdered and the cast of likely suspects include politicians in the Scottish Nationalist party, important bankers, and Rebus' perennial nemesis Cafferty. Plenty of twists that don't always go where you expect them - but that is of course part of the enjoyment as a reader. ( )
  stuart10er | Nov 5, 2013 |
This was the first book I've read in this series and come to find out it's probably the last! Oh well, still enjoyed very much and would definitely read the earlier books. ( )
  Dianekeenoy | Aug 14, 2013 |
I bought this some little while ago and decided to keep it to read as my reward for finishing my nonfiction book Denying Science (coming your way this fall, plug plug); of course, Denying Science proved to be one of those rare books that took me far longer to polish off than anticipated, so, as you can imagine, by the time I allowed myself to reach Exit Music down from the shelf, I was trembling like a junkie in need of a fix. But it was worth the wait . . .

This is the book that sees Rebus's exit -- his last case before retiring from the force. In a way it's a simple one -- a distinguished Russian emigree poet and notorious womanizer, now based in Edinburgh, is beaten to death in a little frequented street somewhere off the end of Princes Street. As Rebus investigates, he becomes convinced the murder must have something to do with the presence in Edinburgh of fleets of Russian industrialists who're being courted by Members of the Scottish Parliament in hopes they'll bring money and jobs to the Scottish economy. Is there some kind of coverup going on? Are those Russians really just businessmen or are they better characterized as mob bosses? And how come Ger Cafferty, Edinburgh's top gangster and Rebus's longtime nemesis, is somehow mixed up in all this?

This isn't the best Rebus novel I've read but it's not far off it, and certainly a distinguished ending to an astonishingly distinguished series; the book's climax is like something out of a Shakespeare play, at once darkly comic and a comment on the human condition. I'm lucky enough that I've never made a point of reading the Rebus books in order, so I still have several to go -- in fact, I already own two others that I've not yet read (plus a couple of Rankin's non-Rebus novels). There cannot be a crime-fiction writer in the world who does not regard Rankin's work as the benchmark against which all other writing in the field should be compared. ( )
  JohnGrant1 | Aug 11, 2013 |
The last in the Inspector Rebus series. Rebus gets involved with a murder of a Russian. He’s convinced that his old enemy, Cafferty, is involved. It’s Rebus’ last chance to get Cafferty before his retirement at the end of the week. A new officer in their team turns out to want revenge and tries to frame Rebus, but Rebus is spending more time on suspension than on the job.

Good ending. Does Cafferty live or die? The reader finds out that Rebus has a ‘soft spot’ for Cafferty after all. A good ending to a series. ( )
  dalzan | Apr 24, 2013 |
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"The frontier is never
somewhere else. And no stockades
can keep the midnight out"
Norman McCaig, 'Hotel Room, 12th floor'
My father always said a policeman's knock is unmistakable, and so it is, the rap on the paintwork a very public command, feasting on the hearer's capacity for guilt.
Andrew O'Hagan, Be Near Me
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The girl screamed once, only the once, but it was enough.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316057584, Hardcover)

It's late in the fall in Edinburgh and late in the career of Detective Inspector John Rebus. As he is simply trying to tie up some loose ends before his retirement, a new case lands on his desk: a dissident Russian poet has been murdered in what looks like a mugging gone wrong.
Rebus discovers that an elite delegation of Russian businessmen is in town, looking to expand its interests. And as Rebus's investigation gains ground, someone brutally assaults a local gangster with whom he has a long history.
Has Rebus overstepped his bounds for the last time? Only a few days shy of the end to his long, controversial career, will Rebus even make it that far?

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:56:11 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

It's late in the fall in Edinburgh and late in the career of Detective Inspector John Rebus. As he is simply trying to tie up some loose ends before his retirement, a new case lands on his desk: a dissident Russian poet has been murdered in what looks like a mugging gone wrong. Rebus discovers that an elite delegation of Russian businessmen is in town, looking to expand its interests. And as Rebus's investigation gains ground, someone brutally assaults a local gangster with whom he has a long history. Has Rebus overstepped his bounds for the last time? Only a few days shy of the end to his long, controversial career, will Rebus even make it that far?… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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