There’s something irresistible about John Rebus

I’d waited so long to get a copy of A Song for the Dark Times by Ian Rankin from the library that the paperback had been published by the time I did. This is the latest Rebus novel, which was published in hardback last year, but it was so worth the wait!

Okay, I admit I’m a Rebus fan, so maybe it’s not surprising I enjoyed it. But I love the fact that Rankin can make a story about a grumpy, bull-headed, retired detective so compelling. In the sleeve notes the mystery underpinning the novel didn’t sound that promising, but somehow all the little story-threads were woven into something interesting, clever and complicated. It was huge fun to read.

The plot
As usual there are two crimes. In Edinburgh the police are investigating the death of a young Saudi called Salman bin Mahmoud. He was unknown to them and there’s no obvious motive for the killing, so the team have very little to work with. The second crime is the disappearance of Rebus’s son-in-law, which has him chasing north to help his daughter.

While Rebus is sticking his neck out in the small town of Tongue in the northwest Highlands, there seems no likelihood that he could become involved in the Edinburgh case. But he does, because the two stories link in the most tenuous ways, through the characters rather than the crimes.

The Edinburgh case involves some familiar names: Detective Inspector Malcolm Fox, has been parachuted in from the Major Crimes Division and Cafferty the crime boss is circling on the edges so it’s not long before the murder investigation morphs into something a bit more intricate. And back in Tongue, after Rebus has discovered his son-in-law’s body, he’s desperately trying to stop DS Robin Creasey arresting his daughter and starts digging into some long-held secrets relating to a POW camp that had been located outside the town during WW2.

There’s something comforting about Rankin’s Rebus stories and, in my view, this is another excellent addition to the series. Entertaining, interesting and welcomingly familiar it earns 4.5 Stars from me.
Review by: Cornish Eskimo

P.S. Oundle Crime is meeting again. If you’d like to come along to one of our get-togethers, to meet other crime fiction fans and chat about the books and authors you love, drop us an email to and we’ll send you the details of our next meeting.