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Exit Music   by Ian Rankin

Read: 2008-10-25 Reviewed: 2009-11-25
Re-read factor:

As an entry in the long-running series of John Rebus novels this one charts an interesting time: that of the week of his retirement. Given that the series has been fairly true to time -- charting investigations on a day-to-day basis and following the ageing of the detective down the years -- this is truely a pivotal moment.

However, as a novel in its own right it is hugely disappointing. As ever, Ian Rankin cranks the handle of the literary loom to weave a plot which becomes ever more intriguing and ravels up the stories of many peoples' lives, but in the end it turns out to be nothing but a ravel and the actual resolution ends up being somewhat tangential. The reveal of this resolution is even more separated from the plot when the detective, having been suspended from his last week of duty, suddenly turns up at the abode of one of the book's minor cameos and lo and behold, everything has been worked out!

This anticlimactic feel actually pervades the book, as the ending is more to do with leaving a bitter-sweet feeling in the reader than actually completeing either the book or the working life of John Rebus. It is designed to show a case solved, people vindicated, ends sown up and ends left dangling. The only overall impression you have is that no way is John Rebus going to go away but will continue working with his trusty companion as his retirement years roll by.

As usual with Ian Rankin it is the characterizations which make the book, followed by an immersive atmosphere -- although this is not as strong as in his other books --, and a plot which manages the balancing of involving lots of people and sophistication without overwhelming the reader with too much complexity.

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