In this his second book, Rankin has improved his writing technique by including less background on Rebus and concentrating on the story. It opens with the discovery of a dead drug addict, but Rebus is concerned with several discrepancies. When the chemical results show that the man died of nearly pure rat poison, Rebus goes on the hunt for the murderer.
His boss, however, picks him to work exclusively on an anti-drug project in cooperation with several of the city’s leading businessmen. Not being able to give up on a murder, Rebus works the case on his own.
My first assumption was that the story was going to be about the underworld of drugs in Edinburgh. Later, it seemed to be moving into a story about homosexuals. While the story included those issues, it entered bigger and darker storylines.
While Rankin is not as readable as some authors, his stories are not cookie-cutter. One of the frustrations of reading his books is that we don’t know where Rebus is headed until halfway through the book, but then, neither does he. Somewhere in the last quarter of the pages, I had at least the broad outline figured out. If you figure it all out before then, you should join the police force.