The DI John Rebus series is quite mature and familiar now that it is well over 20 entries long. Author Ian Rankin has done an excellent job of revitalizing the series recently by raising the profile of DI Siobhan Clarke (whom we have seen grown and develop from a uniformed officer to a seasoned criminal investigator under Rebus’ tutelage). Rankin had initially introduced Malcolm Fox as an “Internal Affairs” Officer who initially tried to investigate and prosecute Rebus for his past misdeeds in a few "spinoff" novels like The Impossible Dead and The Complaints but in the last few Rebus books the two have worked together to solve crimes (often cold cases).
In a House of Lies is the latest Rankin mystery and features Rebus, Clarke and Fox. Rebus has been retired for several years now so DI Clarke is the primary investigator of a case which revolves around the discovery of a car with a desiccated body with handcuffed ankles in the boot (trunk). The case involves Sir Adrian Brand, a prominent real estate developer, and Jackie Ness, a producer of low-quality, cheap movies who have feuded for years. When the body turns out to be identified as an openly gay private investigator who had disappeared over a decade ago after meeting with Ness and had been dating the son of an Edinburgh cop, the corrupt mistakes of the missing person investigation (mis)conducted by Rebus and his contemporaries are brought to the fore. This attracts Fox’s boss, who sends him back to Edinburgh to review the old files.
However, this being Rankin of course there’s more plot threads in addition to the central "misper/murder" (missing person murder) case. This time that involves an open and shut case of a teenage high school dropout who was convicted last year of murdering his Queen Bee girlfriend but Clarke is convinced by the boy’s uncle to take another look in hopes of getting the uncle to help her take down some corrupt Internal Affairs cops who had targeted her before for potential leaks of sensitive murder inquiry information to the media. She passes the case on to Rebus (something to keep him occupied instead of interfering with her investigation of his old missing person case which turned into her dead body in the trunk case) and the reader gets to enjoy Rebus’s unique methods of unraveling the motives and secrets of a murderer. The truth about what happened is both surprising and heart-breaking, raising the question of whether it is always better for the truth to come out.
In a House of Lies is another excellent John Rebus mystery, even though it also stars DI Clarke and Malcolm Fox. The British police procedural aspects are very familiar but the mysteries (both of which get resolved in the end) and the complications of Rebus’ problematic past make this book an enjoyable and compelling read. My only caveat would be that the depiction of Rebus as indispensable to the resolution of both crimes seems a bit far-fetched and appears to indicate that Rankin is still quite attached to his most well-known character, despite including some characteristics that indicate Rebus is human. He's suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), so the reader is on notice that the detective won't live forever, in fact its likely he won't live very much longer.
OVERALL RATING: 4.5 STARS.
Title: In a House of Lies.
Author: Ian Rankin.
Paperback: 416 pages.
Date Published: November 27, 2018.
Date Read: March 16, 2019.
GOODREADS RATING: ★★★★½☆ (4.5/5.0).
OVERALL GRADE: A/A- (3.83/4.0).