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A Heart Full of Headstones

Soon to be knighted, award winning best seller writer, Ian Rankin has not disappointed readers with his twenty fourth installment in the celebrated and much loved Detective Rebus series. The first Rebus novel was written way back in 1987.

 The familiar characters are back; the loathsome ambitious Detective Inspector Malcolm Fox, Rebus’s long-suffering friend and former protégé DI Siobhan Clarke, and ruthless organised crime boss Morris Gerald Cafferty (known as ‘Big Ger’) who is now in a wheelchair. Rebus, who has been forced into retirement, is now too in declining health and at almost 70 feeling his age.

A Heart Full of Headstones set in Edinburgh, which is gradually getting back to normal after the COVID lockdowns, opens dramatically with Rebus in the dock. Has his unique approach to policing come back to bite him?

‘Big Ger’ with whom Rebus has had a long and complicated relationship over the years, calls in a favour, which he can’t dismiss. Over a period of eight days, the reader follows Rebus as he undertakes this seemingly innocuous task. Meanwhile, a corrupt policeman who is murdered, has Clarke and Fox, dig into his allegations about the unethical practices and misconduct at Tynecastle; Edinburgh’s most notorious police station. Soon both investigations head in the same direction. Will this be disastrous for Rebus?

Although the author seizes the reader’s attention from the opening page and with the twists and turns, holds it until the unexpected conclusion, this book may not be the one with which to start reading the popular Rebus series.  In order to get a greater appreciation of the characters, new readers to this series may like to start with the author’s earlier books. Even after 35 years, fans will find that this fascinating read reveals some new aspects of Rebus’s character.  

Siobhan Clarke’s character has grown in substance. Could she be the next main protagonist of an Ian Rankin series?

Author Ian Rankin.
Publisher Hachette. Imprint Orion.
ISBN 9781398709362
Distributor Hachette Australia
Released October 2022