It's late in the fall in Edinburgh and late in the career of Detective Inspector John Rebus. As he is simply trying to tie up some loose ends before his retirement, a new case lands on his desk: a dissident Russian poet has been murdered in what looks like a mugging gone wrong.
Rebus discovers that an elite delegation of Russian businessmen is in town, looking to expand its interests. And as Rebus's investigation gains ground, someone brutally assaults a local gangster with whom he has a long history.
Has Rebus overstepped his bounds for the last time? Only a few days shy of the end to his long, controversial career, will Rebus even make it that far?
Insp. John Rebus has just 10 days to solve the apparently motiveless murder of Alexander Todorov, an expatriate Russian poet, before he reaches 60 and mandatory retirement in Edgar-winner Rankin's rewarding 17th novel to feature the Edinburgh detective (after The Naming of the Dead). When the dogged Rebus and Det. Sgt. Siobhan Clarke look into the crime, they find an array of baffling conspiracies involving Russian businessmen, Scottish bankers and local politicians pushing for an independent Scotland. A second murder, of a man who'd taped one of Todorov's poetry readings, ensures the case gets extra resources, and Rebus's own interest is whetted by the possible involvement of Edinburgh crime boss "Big Ger" Cafferty. Clever, insightful prose more than compensates for the byzantine plot. There's an appropriately wistful tone to this final entry in the series. Fans will miss Rebus and wonder what on earth he'll do in retirement.