Rebus: The Lost Years (Let it Bleed, Black & Blue, The Hanging Garden)

Friday, 28 May 2010

From the start of Rebus #7, Let It Bleed, we're back amid the upper echelons of the Scots socioeconomic ladder, though as usual there's a substantial section of plot line stemming from much further down. 

That's not quite so obvious at the start, with Rebus and Frank Lauderdale in a high speed car chase that brings them onto the Forth Road Bridge and results in a car crash, serious injuries for Lauderdale and a double suicide when the two kids they're chasing throw themselves off the bridge, landing on a passing warship.

The pursuit attempted to catch the presumed kidnappers of Kirstie Kennedy, the Lord Provost's daughter and no one's impressed by the outcome. The girl's still missing, and it's impossible to be sure she was actually kidnapped. The only thing the investigation had to work from has ended up splattered across the deck of HMS Descant. 

They've got enough to identify the bodies, but nothing to connect the two of them to the alleged offence.

With Lauderdale hospitalised and no guarantee he'll be back, there's a vacancy that could be filled by promoting Rebus or his arch-rival Alister Flower, but his superiors solve the issue by moving Rebus' ex-flame Gill Templer into the slot with things to prove and ambitions to make the appointment a permanent position.

Internal politics becomes a major issue when terminally ill ex-convict ‘Wee Shug’ McAnally suicides in front of local government councillor Tom Gillespie. 

There's no obvious link between McAnally, convicted of raping the next door neighbour's daughter but somehow managing to get out of jail relatively unscathed, and the councillor, and another detective may well have shrugged his shoulders and moved on. 

As far as Rebus is concerned, however, the act is a little too spectacular, so he starts sniffing around and ends up dealing with issues more important than he'd imagined. 

In the process of questioning Councillor Gillespie, Rebus notes that he's busy shredding a large stack of documents and a check on the flat where the bridge jumpers lived reveals evidence linking an ambitious computer project and the Scottish Development Agency to issues that the Lord Provost and the highest levels of government would prefer were kept quiet.  

The best way to do that would involve dissuading Rebus from continuing to dig around, and when political pressure on his superiors doesn't achieve the desired result (as far as Rebus is concerned he doesn't have much to lose, so the threat of losing his job isn’t going to work) he's bundled off on leave, presumably on the basis that once he's not clocking on at the office he'll be off on a bender that'll render him unable to pursue his inquiries any further.

Predictably, it doesn't work out that way, and Rebus plugs away with covert assistance from Brian Holmes and Siobhan Clarke, who've supposedly been diverted onto duties that'll keep them away from matters that the political and economic elite want left under the carpet.

There's an attempt at friendly persuasion with Rebus invited to a clay pigeon shoot at the country estate belonging to the Scottish Office's Permanent Secretary and when that doesn't succeed a plea to the man's better nature painting a picture of hundreds of families affected by the fallout from the investigation, which threatens Scotland's ‘Silicon Glen’ home of an emerging computer industry and, by extension, the wider economy of Scotland.


© Ian Hughes 2012