Undoubtedly the best Rebus book till date! Don’t we keep repeating this every time Ian Rankin comes up with a John Rebus thriller? But “Even Dogs In The Wild” has an allure about it which lends an unshakeable credence to a conviction that denies the fact that the existence of this intrepid detective from Edinburgh is solely confined to the magical imagination of a virtuoso crime writer. This in spite of the fact that John Rebus does not even bask in the limelight as is his normal wont. Ian Rankin suffuses resplendent light on the character of Detective Malcom Fox, a man who is usually at loggerheads with Rebus and does not take too kindly to the latter’s indulgences, insouciance and interference.
So without further ado and sans any spoilers let’s get to the plot. A hot shot lawyer David Minton is found bludgeoned to death in his mansion. Siobhan Clarke along with two of her associates is put onto the case by Inspector James Page. The investigation takes an intriguing note when a note is found from Minton’s possessions warning him of an impending death. Things begin to take a chaotic whorl when Morris Gerald Cafferty (Yes! Big Ger Cafferty’s back!) a former ruthless gangster and an inveterate nemesis of John Rebus finds a bullet embedded in his wall and a note similar to the one found in Minton’s possession slid under his door. Inspector John Rebus who by this time has officially retired is roped in as a special consultant by the Scotland Police mainly because of his former dealings with Cafferty. When Malcom Fox wanders off on his own path of investigation unearthing a cache of drugs, all hell breaks loose.
The book is made memorable by the presence and contrivance of Rebus and Cafferty. The perpetual hunter and the perennially hunted have always led a symbiotic existence feeding off the strengths and foibles of one another. This reciprocal relationship reaches a zenith in the 20th Rebus installment. Recrimination, Remorse, Regret, Reminiscence and Realization cleave and coalesce as Rankin weaves an exquisitely intricate plot that grips the heart and soul of the reader. However the undoubted hero of the book is Malcom Fox. Torn by guilt at not having embellished his reputation in front of a terminally ailing father, Malcom is determined to prove his worth and no physical or mental force can desist him from his objective. Siobhan Clarke is her usual self, the Rebus protégé who is determined to move out of her mentor’s looming and formidable shadow to carve out a niche for herself in the world of crime tracking. She is aided and abetted in her endeavours by two enthusiastic assistants, Christine Esson and Ronnie Ogilvie.
Rankin mixes subtle wit with succinct sarcasm as conversations between the characters take on invisible undertones of material significance. The characters are created with a sense of perfection that is to say the least startling! With “Even Dogs In The Wild”, Ian Rankin has conclusively, convincingly and categorically demonstrated that he is at the top of the pedestal in the crime writing scene and genre that entertains us today! I could not have voluntarily chosen a better book to welcome the onset of a brand New Year! Hoping that special consulting engagements for Rebus arrive in a deluge!