Crime Fiction


Exit Music by Ian Rankin

Eleven years after it was first published, Ian Rankin's book Exit Music is still relevant and a compelling read.
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Our book group’s reading theme for December was novels by Ian Rankin. I chose to read Exit Music, which was published in 2007, and which was meant to be the last book about John Rebus. I’d read it when it first came out, but re-reading it 11 years later was a treat.

It’s set in 2006 and tracks Rebus’s last 10 days as a detective before his retirement. Written in almost-real time, the book moves through each day from 15 to 25 November with the addition of an Epilogue.

The story centres on the murder of a dissident Russian poet in Edinburgh. Visiting Edinburgh at the same time is a group of Russian businessmen and oligarchs who are wheeling and dealing with a large Scottish bank, with the encouragement of Scottish politicians. The Russian connection is no literary coincidence because it was in November 2006 that the Russian defector and ex-FSB spy, Alexander Litvinenko, was murdered in London in real life when his tea was spiked with polonium-210. The book mentions this real-life case several times.

But... back to the story and back In Scotland, the police and politicians would rather the poet’s murder was ‘solved’ as a mugging-gone-wrong. As Rebus and Siobhan Clarke begin to untangle the clues, different plots and crimes emerge. Bankers, Russians, politicians, drug dealers, Gerald Cafferty, and even one of Rebus’s earliest cases are pulled into play. There are numerous twists and turns as connections are made, broken, and sometimes re-established.

I love Rankin’s writing for lots of reasons. Rebus’s sly humour and the relationship with DS Clarke are always enjoyable. The timeframe for this novel; the references to Litvinenko; and the borderline corruption of the politicians, big bankers, and businessmen, anchor it to reality. And Rankin’s repeated references to the criminal ‘underworld’ of Gerald Cafferty and the ‘overworld’ of the rich (who seem untouchable), sadly still rings true today.

Even though this book is 11-years old and I’ve read it before, I enjoyed re-reading it so much I’d still give it 5-Stars.
Cornish Eskimo

Oundle Library’s Crime Fiction Book Group meets on the third Friday of each month @ 2.30pm at Oundle Library. We don’t consider ourselves a formal book group because we don’t work through a reading list. We just pick a reading ‘theme’ each month, which is entirely optional. At our meetings we chat about whatever we’ve read, and swap notes about the books and authors we enjoy. It’s been a great way for everyone to find new authors to try. If you think it sounds fun, why not join us? You’ll be very welcome.