The Naming Of The Dead was an event which took place at Edinburgh's Calton Hill to commemorate those who died during the Iraq war. What does that have to do with an unrepentant, ex-con, rapist named Colliar who supported himself doing muscle work for the local boss Ger Cafferty until he turned up with his head caved in with a hammer? The long in the tooth John Rebus for one thing and the excellent prose of Ian Rankin for another.
If it has been a long time since you picked up a Rankin novel or since running across DI John Rebus you will be surprised by how much the detective has changed over the years: Disillusionment doesn't quite cover the depth of the character and the changes he has gone through. Rankin's reliance on Cafferty once again to help season the procedural soup is to be expected but it is not a simple proforma inclusion. Cafferty is a dynamic character in his own right and a scary reflection of Rebus' own dark turn. The time line of the novel is smack dab in the middle of the July, 2005 G8 Summit in Edinburgh. It seems every policeman within earshot of a telephone has been called in to work the summit - everyone except the troublesome Rebus who has been left back to mind the store as it were.
The discovery of a piece of Colliar's clothing at Clootie Well - a stone's throw from the G8 - brings Rebus out into the midst of where no one wants him to be. Add into the mix the curious death (perhaps murder perhaps suicide perhaps an accident) of a government minister, big money in the form a defense contractor, the interference in the investigation by Special Branch and the possibility that a serial killer is on the loose and you have a story which has both legs and depth.
Rankin regularly delivers a solid and well written story The Naming Of The Dead is no exception to that pattern. Will the aging Rebus be back in a final novel or two - it could be or he could just as easily go into that good night with DS Clarke picking up the Rebus mantle which is a much her birthright as it is something she fears.
Other Ian Rankin Reviews
Blood Hunt: Rankin can do better but this is still a good read.
Bleeding Hearts: An assassin is set up on a hit and investigates who set him up
Even Dogs in the Wild - A Rebus Mystery: A recently retired Rebus gets pulled into the investigation of a series of killings.