Curmudgeonly Scottish cop John Rebus has been policing Edinburgh on the page and screen for more than 30 years. Now shelved (again), emphysema has finally curbed his smoking and drinking—but not his instinct for elbowing his way into and through a troubling case.
In a House of Lies, the 22nd Rebus tale, opens with the discovery of remains in the trunk of a car deep in a forest outside of Edinburgh. While the family of the deceased finally get some closure, the ID of the victim is bad for everyone else: Stuart Bloom was a gay private eye who vanished a decade ago while investigating powerful figures. His family always thought the cops botched the investigation, focusing more on his lifestyle than his work, and now Bloom’s body—with handcuffs around its ankles—has been found somewhere supposedly already searched. Alarm bells are ringing throughout Police Scotland as various players look to shift blame. Carelessness, a cover-up, or something even worse?
DI Siobhan Clarke is tasked with a new inquiry entwined with past mistakes, and her old pal Rebus, who was part of the original team. Clarke has a cloudy reputation after being targeted by professional standards and is being harassed by an unknown caller. Rebus injects himself into the fray on both fronts, and locks horns once again with the likes of local gangster Big Ger Cafferty.
Rankin keeps the revs high as a web of past and present acts threatens to overwhelm beloved characters. Nuanced, layered, gripping—while Rebus may be in (physical) decline, In a House of Lies shows the series certainly is not.