Three friends descend upon an art auction in search of some excitement. Mike Mackenzie-retired software mogul, bachelor and fine art enthusiast-wants something that money can't buy. Fellow art-lover Allan Cruickshank is bored with his banking career and burdened by a painful divorce. And Robert Gissing, an art professor, is frustrated that so many paintings stay hidden in corporate boardrooms, safes and private apartments. After the auction-and a chance encounter with crime boss Chib Calloway-Robert and Allan suggest the "liberation" of several paintings from the National Gallery, hoping Mike will dissuade them. Instead, he hopes they are serious.
As enterprising girlfriends, clever detectives, seductive auctioneers and a Hell's Angel named Hate enter the picture, Ian Rankin creates a highly-charged thriller, a faced-past story of second guesses and double crosses that keep changing the picture, right until the harrowing finish.
In Scottish author Rankin's intricately plotted heist thriller, software millionaire Mike Mackenzie, high-end banker Allan Cruikshank, and college art professor Robert Gissing devise a plan to "liberate" forgotten works of art from a warehouse storing the overflow from Edinburgh's museum collections. The trio commissions an art student nursing an antiestablishment grudge to paint fakes to swap for the originals, and Mackenzie's chance meeting with schoolmate Charlie "Chib" Calloway, now one of the city's most notorious gangsters, allows the group access to muscle and weapons. But cracks soon appear in the plan, with an inquisitive detective inspector, who's been on Calloway's trail for months, getting too close for comfort. Using the smalltown feel of Edinburgh to advantage, Rankin (Exit Music) gives his caper novel a claustrophobic edge while injecting enough twists, turns, and triple crosses that even the most astute reader will be surprised at the outcome.
Not the usual Rankin
A good read but I confess that I prefer the Rebus mysteries. The central character is interesting, as are his cohorts, but not as well developed as I would have liked. I felt Rankin was only scratching the surface. But the story was fresh and moved at a decent pace. And there's nothing like being back in Edinburgh even if only through words.