Facing mandatory retirement, Detective Inspector John Rebus has a mere ten days to wrap up a number of loose ends before leaving the department forever. Rebus doesn’t relish the thought of retired life although his supervisors look forward to the prospect with barely contained glee. It won’t be long before they no longer have to deal with his unorthodox style. As Rebus, assisted by Detective Sergeant Siobhan Clarke, his capable protégée begin investigating the beating death of a dissident Russian poet Alexander Todorov, they come to realize the apparently random act of violence has deeper, more sinister roots.Todorov was an outspoken critic of the new breed of Russian executives who appeared more interested in furthering their materialistic desires then taking care of their fellow countrymen. With a series of big business deals and backroom wheeling/dealings, these executives are deeply involved in Edinburgh’s underbelly. As the investigation continues, Rebus discovers involvement by his arch nemesis Big Ger Cafferty and it would be a crowning achievement to bring this ubervillain to justice. With subplots twinning through all Edinburgh, naturally, Rebus is officially pulled from the case but that has never stopped him before and it certainly won’t do so now.
Rankin’s compelling, fully realized characters carry this unevenly paced, circuitous tale as Rebus copes with the frustrations of forced retirement and Clarke attempts to establish a good accounting for herself, independent of Rebus. Overly detailed conversations serve to slow the story more then augment it but having said that, this is still a satisfying conclusion(?) to a fine series.