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The Black Book Ian RankinThe Inspector Rebus Novels'One of the fastest-rising contemporary British sleuths is lan Ra. A Collection of Inspector Rebus Novels: Black and Blue; Dead Souls; The Falls; The Set in Darkness; Strip Jack; Tooth and Nail; A Good Hanging - Kindle edition by Ian Rankin. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. Kindle Store · Kindle eBooks · Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Ian Rankin is a #1 international bestselling author. Winner of an Edgar Award and the Book Ian Rankin Author (). cover image of Rebus: Strip Jack.


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Read "In a House of Lies The Brand New Rebus Thriller – the No.1 Bestseller" by Ian Rankin available from Rakuten Kobo. Sign up today and get £3 off your. Rebus's Scotland. Ian Rankin's guide to the places in Scotland that have provided inspiration for his bestselling Inspector Rebus novels. Ian uncovers the . Trade Paperback; Hardback; Paperback; ebook; Audiobook Download; Audio CD in Edinburgh and late autumn in the career of Detective Inspector Rebus.

Rankin Ian. Powerful characterisation and a strong sense of place dominate the Rebus novels A talent not to be ignored' Time Out 'A first-rate thriller' Yorkshire Evening Post 'The internal police politics and corruption in high places are both portrayed with bone-freezing accuracy. This novel should come with a wind-chill factor warning' Daily Telegraph 'Rankin strips Edinburgh's polite facade to its gritty skeleton' The Times 'Rebus is the kind of detective who enjoys a deep dark mystery with a good moral conundrum' New York Times 'Rankin writes laconic, sophisticated, well-paced thrillers' The Scotsman 'Ian Rankin provides some welcome fresh blood on the scene. Morse and Wexford had better watch out' Daily Telegraph 'First-rate plotting, dialogue and characterisations' Litera. He lives in Edinburgh and is married with two sons.

Ex-Army himself, Rebus becomes fascinated by the killer, and finds he is not alone. The killer had friends and…. This title is out of print. Rebus is off the case — literally. A few days into the murder inquiry of an Edinburgh art dealer, Rebus blows up at a colleague.

Rebus is assigned to an old, unsolved case, but there…. A student has gone missing in Edinburgh. Two leads emerge: Edinburgh is about to become the home of the first Scottish parliament in years. As political passions run high, DI John Rebus is charged with liaison, thanks to the new parliament being resident in Queensbury House, bang in the middle of his patch. But Queensbury House has its own dark past. Legend has it…. Stalking a poisoner at the local zoo, Inspector John Rebus comes across a paedophile taking pictures of children.

When the social workers claim he is there for legitimate educational reasons, Rebus is faced with a dilemma — should he be outed to protect local kids or given a chance to start anew? As the locals…. Telford is known to have close links with a Chechen gangster bringing refugees into Britain as prostitutes.

When Rebus takes a distraught Bosnian call girl under his…. Rebus is juggling four cases trying to nail one killer — who might just lead back to the infamous Bible John. It begins with a phone call. The car was locked from the inside, a gun was in his hand. In the US to identify the body Gordon realises that his brother has been murdered. Struggling through another Edinburgh winter, Rebus finds himself sucked into a web of intrigue that throws up more questions than answers.

Why is a city councillor shredding documents that should have been waste paper years ago? And why on earth is Rebus invited to a….

One mistake was…. The prospect of a terrorist atrocity in a city heaving with tourists is almost unthinkable.

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When a close colleague is brutally attacked, Inspector John Rebus is drawn into a case involving a hotel fire, an unidentified body, and a long-forgotten night of terror and murder. Interpol have tried and failed to find the terrorist, Witch. Now the combined forces of Scotland Yard and MI5 must try the impossible to prevent a major international incident.

Dominic Elder carries her autograph wherever he goes. Witch is his passion, his obsession. And being retired is no bar to his willingness to restart the…. In any year Detective Inspector…. Gregor Jack, MP, well-liked, young, married to the fiery Elizabeth — to the outside world a very public success story.

Scotland Yard are anxious to find the killer and Inspector Rebus is drafted in to help. A junkie lies dead in an Edinburgh squat, spreadeagled, cross-like on the floor, between two burned-down candles, a five-pointed star daubed on the wall above.

Just another dead addict — until John Rebus begins to chip away at the indifference, treachery, deceit and sleaze that lurks behind the facade of the Edinburgh familiar to tourists. Bombs are exploding in the streets of London, but life seems to have planted more subtle booby-traps for Miles Flint. Miles is a spy. His job is to watch and to listen, then to report back to his superiors, nothing more.

The job, affording glimpses into the most private lives of his victims, appeals to…. The very first Rebus novel. I mean, you never think of that sort of thing happening in Edinburgh, do you…?

And now a third is missing, presumably gone to the same sad end. Detective Sergeant…. Mary Miller had always been an outcast. Burnt in a chemical mix as a young girl, sympathy for her quickly faded when the young man who pushed her in died in a mining accident just two days later.

From then on she was regarded with a mixture…. You can unsubscribe at any time via the link in any email we send you. Skip to content Order By: Thumbnails Detailed. Book Search: Characters Format Category Clear Filters. In a House of Lies The No. First Published: Available As: Paperback Hardback ebook Audiobook Download - Unabridged. Long Shadows: A Play The stage debut for the legendary detective John Rebus in this brand new, original story by Ian Rankin, written alongside the award-winning playwright Rona Munro.

Rather be the Devil Some cases never leave you. Black and Blue special edition Special edition of the award-winning Rebus novel — includes exclusive extra material. Available from: Paperback ebook. First published: Paperback Hardback ebook Audiobook Download.

A quite necessary sense of humour. He didn't 1ok like a pathologist. He wasn't tall and cadaver-ously grey like Dr Curt, but was a bossy, shuffling figure, with the physique of a wrestler rather than an undertaker. He was broad-chested, bull-necked, and had pudgy hands, the fingers of which he delighted in cracking, one at a time or all tgether.

He liked people to call him Sandy. He was able to confirm the existence of two separate corpses. Samples were taken of veinous blood for grouping, DNA, toxicology, and alcohol. Usually urine samples would be taken also, but that just wasn't possible, and Gttes was even doubtful about the efficacy of blood testing. Vitreous humour and stomach contents were next, along Xvith bile and liver. Befqre their eyes, he started to reconstruct the bodies: Nothing missing, and nothing extraneous.

Outside it was a dry, freezing day. Rebus remembered liking jigsaws too. He wondered if kids still played with them. The post-mortem over, he stood on the pavement and smoked a cigarette.

There were pubs to left and right of him, but none were yet open. His breakfast tot of whisky had all but evaporated. Brian Holmes came out of the mortuary stuffing a green cardboard file into his briefcase. He saw Rebus rubbing at his jaw. He couldn't positively identify any one tooth as the culprit: His chin was tucked into a blue lambswool scarf. They're fingerprinting, just in case she ever was in the car. Holmes said nothing back.

I was just wondering Rebus looked back at the 21 mortuary doors, remembering the scene all over again. The artic, assuming the crash position, Lauderdale spread across the bonnet, then seeing the other car He shrugged non-committally and made for his car.

Chief Inspector Frank Lauderdale was going to be all right. That was the good news. The bad news was that DI Alister Flower was looking for temporary promotion to fill Lauderdale's shoes. He blushed, realising what he'd said. I mean, no funeral or I mean, somebody'Il have to fill in.

How long's Frank going to be out of the game? The breaks were pretty severe. Meantime, the last thing I need is Flower and you vying for any temporary promotion it may or may not be in my power to give. What was Frank playing at? We've got expendables for that sort of escapade.

Except that it was no accident, and they'd no intention of getting away. It was a suicide pact: And that was putting it mildly. They were only there because of power, because of influence, because a favour was asked: That was how it had started: Not that anything unlawful was hinted at. It wasn't that she'd been abducted, assaulted, murdered, nothing like that. It was just that she'd walked out of the house one morning and not come back. Yes, she'd left a note. It was addressed to her father and the message was simple: Had there been a disagreement?

An argument? Strong words? Well, it was impossible to have a teenager in the house without the occasional difference of view. And how old was the Lord Provost's daughter, little Kirstie Ken-nedy? There came the crux: Which should have taken the matter out of thc police's hands, except So the message filtered down from the DCC: Which was, everyone agreed, next to impossible. You didn't ask questions on the street without rumours starting, people fearing the worst for the subject of your questions.

This was the excuse given when the media got hold of the story. There was a photograph of the daughter, a photo police had been given and which somehow the media got their paws on. The Lord Provost was furious about that. It proved to him that he had enemies within the force. As Rebus could have told him, if you went demanding a favour, someone down the line could come to resent it. So there she was, on TV and in the papers: Not a very recent photo, maybe two or three years out of date; and the difference between fourteen or fifteen and seventeen was crucial.

Rebus, father of a one-time teenage daughter, knew that. Kirstie was grown up now, and the photo would be next to useless in helping trace her. The Lord Provost quietened the media hubbub by giving a press conference. His wife was with him - his second wife, not Kirstie's mother; Kirstie's mother was dead - and she was asked what she'd like to say to the runaway. I'd just like her to know we're praying for her, that's all.

It wasn't hard to phone the Lord Provost. He was in the phone book, plus his appointments number was listed alongside every other councillor in a useful pamphlet handed out to tens of thousands of Edinburgh residents.

The caller sounded young, a voice not long broken. He hadn't given a name. All he'd said was that he had Kirstie, and that he wanted money for her return. He'd even put a girl on the phone. She'd squealed a couple of words before being pulled away. The words had been 'Dad' and 'I'. The Lord Provost couldn't be sure it was Kirstie, but he couldn't not be sure either. He wanted the police's help again, and they told him to set up a drop with the kidnappers; only there wouldn't be money waiting for them, there'd be police officers and plenty of them.

The intention wasn't to confront but to tail. A police helicopter was brought into play, along with four unmarked cars. It should have been easy. It should have been. But the caller had selected as drop zone a bus stop on the busy Q.

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Lots of fast-moving traffic, and nowhere to stop an unmarked car inconspicuously. The caller had been clever. When it came time for the pick-up, the Cortina had stopped on the other side of the road from the bus stop.

The passenger had come hurtling across the road, dodging traffic, picked up the bag full of wads of newspaper, and taken it back to the waiting car. Three of the police cars were facing the wrong way, and it took a devil of a time to turn them round.

But the fourth had radioed back with the suspect car's whereabouts. The helicopter, of course, had been grounded earlier, the weather being impossible. All of which left Lauderdale -officer in charge - furiously gunning his car to catch up with the race, and shedding years in the process.

Rebus hoped it had been worth it. He hoped Lauderdale, lying strapped up in hospital, would get a thrill from 25 rernemberig the chase. All it had given Rebus were a sick feeling in the gut, a bad dream, and this damned sore face. There was a collection going around to buy something for the chief inspector. Pointedly and all too quickly, DI Alister Flower put in a tenner.

He was walking around with his chest stuck out and a greasepaint smile on his face. Rebus loathed hi more than ever. Everybody kept looking at Rebus, wondering if he'd be promoted ver Flower. Wondering what Rebus would do if Flower sucldenly became his boss. The rumours piled up faster than the collection money.

It wasn't even close. They,d know for sure very soon, now that they had traced the car, located its owner, discovered that he'd loaned it to two friends and gone to those friends' shared house only to find nobody home.

The car owner was downstairs in an interview room. They were telling him that if he was straight with them, they'd forget about the car's lack of proper insurance. Rebus went down to listen for a while. Both on the broo, but you can always supplernert the broo, eh? He even smiled towards the car owner, nodded to let him know everything was all right.

The car owner was in his late teens, Presentable enough, neatly dressed and groomed. He wore a discreet silver-loop earring in his right ear, but no other Jewellery, not even a watch. I never got an inkling. Willie'd never asked for a loan of the car before. He said he had something to shift. He needed looking after. Was he soft in the head like? He didn't They liked the same music, same comics, same games. They understood one another. Around the station they called him 'Toni', after the character in Oor Wullie.

He'd raanaged to get Duggan relaxed and talkative; he'd forged a relationship. Rebus wasn't so sure of Allder; Allder was one of Flower's men. We had a book at school once. It had t, wo characters like them in it, one daft and the other not.

Rebus offered. I thought that was Burns, Allder said. Rebus indicated to Macari that he was leaving. So, Mr Duggan, to get back to the car Alister Flower was walking along the corridor towards him, whistling 'Dixie'. He caught up with Rebus at the double doors.

It was further out of town than he remembered, and nicer too. Quiet, once you came off Gorgie Road. Two-storey semis with tidy front gardens and swept pavements. Some of the doorsteps looked scrubbed; his mother had got down on her knees with all the other women in their cul-de-sac a couple of times a week to scrub the step with hot soapy water or bleach.

A dirty front step reflected badly on the home within. Rebus was more used to central Edinburgh, tenement city. The little suburbia managed to surprise him. Salt had been put down along the pavements and roads. In summer the neighbours would be out gossiping over fences, but this was winter and they were hibernating. An Edinburgh winter could be a real stayer, starting early in October and lasting into April.

The days were not constant: People walked everywhere squinting, either peering into the gloom or protecting themselves from the fierce light. Today was a twilight day, the sky a dull maroon, threatening a fall. Rebus stuffed his hands into his pockets and felt the small paper bag. He'd found an ironmonger's on Gorgie Road, and had been directed to a specialist shop where he'd been sold a radiator key.

Now he looked around, found the house he was looking for, and walked up to the front door. The house wasn't much warmer than outside. In the living room, Brian Holmes was flipping through a collection of CDs. Holmes stood up. Probably gave them the idea. No sign she's ever been here. Pretty unlikely she'd run about with dossers like those two. She's a Gillespie's girl; Willie and Dixie were strictly comprehensive.

Rebus was looking around. He turned to Clarke. Say you want to run away from home and just disappear for a while, maybe for ever. Would you take up with people your own class, or would you head downmar ket, where nobody'd know you and nobody'd care? If you were to ask me, I'd say she's done what every runner from Scotland does - gone to London.

In fact, plug that electric fire in and I might even lend a hand. There were two bedrooms, one tidy, the bed made, the other a mess. There were books on a bookshelf, most of them brand new.

Rebus wondered which bookshop had been losing stock recently. He pulled out something called Trainspotting, and saw that 3O there were some sheets of paper hidden behind the row of books. The sheets were stapled at one corner, professionally word-processed with charts and graphs. They seemed to comprise a business report, a plan of some kind. Holmes looked over his superior's shoulder. By the time they reached her, she was pulling out her haul from beneath Dixie Taylor's bed.

Three disposable syringes, still in their wrappers, a candle burnt to a nub, and a dessert spoon blackened on its bottom. Rebus was smiling. There was a fine layer of dust on the packets, and little balls of fluff lay in the spoon. Dixie obviously hadn't used his works in some time.

Rebus went to the bathroom, checking for Methodone or whatever the doctors gave you these days to wean you off. But he found only flu powders, paracetamol, mouthwash. He checked the mail again, but found nothing from any hospital or rehab centre.

Then he phoned Professor Gates and asked about the blood samples. Is there a problem? I wasn't really looking for puncture marks.

They'll inject into the tongue, the penis -' 'Well, see what you can do, Professor. He suddenly didn't feel comfortable indoors, so went to get some air. He lasted thirty seconds outside, then went next door and pushed the bell. A middle-aged woman opened the door, and Rebus started to show her his ID. Come in, come in. Rebus sat down on the sofa and rubbed his hands, getting some feeling back into them while avoiding the burn on his palm.

Is that all right? He sat there for over half an hour.

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The room was so hot he thought he might nod off, but what Mrs Tweedie had to say brought him wide awake. Helped me home with my shopping once, and wouldn't stop for a cup of tea. I mean, were they active at night? I'm not late to bed.

They sometimes played their music a bit loud, but all I did was turn up the 32 telly. If they were having a party, they always warned us in advance. I saw their landlord often though. From the lad who had the house before them. I don't know his second.

Nice young lad, always smartly dressed. Only thing I didn't like, he wore one of those She tried the name out. He stopped the car in front of the jail to collect his thoughts. An access road ran from Gorgie Road up to the gatehouse, the tall fence, and the solid building behind with its massive door and large clock. Though not yet five o'clock, it was dark, but the prison was well lit. The main building looked like a Victorian workhouse. They'd have ended up in jail, he thought to himself.

They knew even a hoax kidnapping was a serious offence. Willie Coyle, the taller, the fair-haired of the two. Rebus was imagining what had gone through Willie's mind in those final seconds before he took the plunge. Dixie and he would go to jail. They'd almost certainly be separated: Dixie would have no one to look after him.

Rebus thought of Lenny in Of Mice and Men. Dixie had been an injector, maybe he'd been helped off, helped by his friend Willie. But in Scotland's jails, there were plenty of drugs. Of course, you'd have to have something to trade, and a boy Dixie's age always had something to trade. Had Willie weighed up the options? And had he then hugged his friend, hugged him to death? Rebus was beginning to like Willie Coyle. He was wishing he wasn't dead. But he was, they both were. Cold and commingled on the slab, leaving not much behind except the fact that Paul Duggan was a very cool customer indeed.

Rebus would be talking to Paul Duggan, sooner rather than later. But for now he had other people to see, another appointment. It was the one appointment he'd known all day he would keep, come hell or high water. The TV was on, all but drowned out by the live music.

As often happened on a winter's evening, Edinburgh's folk musi-cians managed to find themselves in the same pub at the same time. They were playing in a corner: The flautist was the only woman. The men were bearded and ruddy-cheeked and wore thick-knit jumpers. The pints on their table were three-quarters full. The woman was thin and pale with long brown hair, but her cheeks were bright from firelight. A few customers were up dancing, arms linked and birling in what space there was. Rebus liked to think they were just keeping warm, but in fact they looked like they were having fun.

He was flanked at the bar by his drinking companions, George Klasser and Donny Dougary. While Klasser was known as 'Doc', Dougary was called 'Salty'. Rebus didn't know either of them very well outside the confines of the pub, but most evenings between six and half-seven they were the best of pals. Salty Dougary was trying to be heard above the general confusion.

You'll do your shopping by computer, you'll watch telly on it, play games, listen to music I can talk to the White House if! I can download stuff from all over the world. I sit there at my desk and I can travel anywhere.

Salty ignored him and held his thumb and forefinger a couple of inches apart. He turned to Rebus. Salty, give the man some money. The barman was waiting, so he pulled out a ten-pound note, watching its sad ebbing as it flowed into the till. Salty was called Salty because of salt and sauce, which were what you put on your chip-shop supper. The connection being chips, since Salty worked in an electronics factory in South Gyle.

He'd been a late arrival in 'Silicon Glen', and was hoping the industry would continue to prosper. Six factories before this one had closed on him, leaving long periods of jobless space between them.

He still remembered the days when money was tight - 'I could have collected Social Security for Scotland' - and watched his money accordingly. He made microchips these days, feeding an assembly plant on Clydeside and another in Gyle Park West. Rebus rested his foot on the polished brass bar-rail and drank his drinks.

By eight o'clock, both Doc and Salty had left, and an old guy in a shapeless bunnet was standing next to Rebus. The man had forgotten his false teeth, and his cheeks were sunken. He was telling Rebus about American history.

Just American, not any other kind. He wasn't focusing on Rebus, or on anything in the bar. You couldn't be sure he was even focusing on the present day. I love Westerns. Hopalong Cassidy, John Wayne I used to like Hopalong Cassidy. The telephone was ringing. Rebus considered not answer ing; resistance lasted all of ten seconds. Where are you? How are you? I 37 should have said fatherly, not polite. Sometimes he wished life had a rewind function.

Sammy never called when she was home. I mean at something. She's out at something. Do you want to meet?

Patience asked She thinks we should see more of one another. What about you? Sleep tight. Love you. He went over to the hi-fi. After a drink, he liked to listen to the Stones. Women, relationships, and colleagues had come and gone, but the Stones had always been there. He put the album on and poured himself a last drink. The guitar riff, one of easily half a dozen in Keith's tireless repertoire, kicked the album off.

I don't have much, Rebus thought, but I have this. He thought of Lauderdale in his hospital bed; Patience out enjoying herself; Kirstie Ken-nedy in a Charing Cross cardboard-box. Then he saw cheap trainers, a final embrace, and Willie Coyle's face. He remembered the report he'd found hidden in Willie's bedroom. It was on the kitchen worktop, and he went to fetch it. It was a business plan, something to do with a computer software company called LABarum.

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The business plan dis-cussed future development, costings, proiected balance sheet, employment range. It was dry, and it was couched in the conditional. Rebus got out the phone book but found no listing anywhere for LABarum. Someone had been working on the text, underlining some phrases, circling words, doing jotted calculations beside the graphs and bar charts.

Sentences had been deleted in red pen, words changed. Some points had been ticked. Rebus couldn't know if the handwriting was Willie Coyle's. He didn't know if Willie had owned such a thing as a red Biro. But he did wonder what such a document was doing hidden in Willie Coyle's bedroom. When he turned to the last sheet, there was a word scrawled diagonally across it and underlined heavily. He flipped through the report again but found no other mention of Dalgety.

Was it a person, a place, another company? The word was scored into the paper in blue ink. It was impossible to say if it was in the same hand as the amendments and marginalia. He poured another drink - this would be his last - and flipped the album over. He was annoyed, more with himself than anyone.

It was case closed after all: That was all. He should have cleared it from his mind by now. Yet he couldn't. He sat down again 39 with his drink and picked up the business plan. There were a couple of letters in the top right-hand corner, written faintly in pencil. He wondered if they were an abbreviation for 'check'. What a shambles the band were, yet sometimes they could get it so exactly right that it hurt.

The pipes were gurgling, the boiler roaring away, yet the radiators were barely warm. He got coffee and a bacon roll from a caf6 and had breakfast in his car on the way to work. There was a hard frost on the ground, and the sky was leaden, threatening worse. It had taken him five minutes to scrape the ice off his windscreen, and even so it was like driving a tank, peering through the one clear slit. A message on his desk warned of a nine-thirty meeting in the Farmer's office.

Rebus felt he deserved another coffee, and made for the canteen. A lone woman sat at a table, slowly stirring a beaker of tea. It was Gill Templer. Rebus's face broke into its first grin of the year. He pulled out a chair and sat down. Her short dark hair was feather-cut, long crescents sweeping over both ears to her cheeks. Her eyes were emerald green.

She hadn't changed a 41 bit. Gill Templer smiled an acknowledgment but didn't say anything. Brian Holmes put a hand on Rebus's shoulder. Holmes took a bite out of his dough-ring and shrugged. He thinks he may have a couple of jab marks on one corpse, but they're not recent. When he turned, Gill Templer wasn't at the table any more.

She had left the beaker of tea untouched. DI Alister Flower looked like he was on his way to a fashion shoot for one of the stores on Princes Street. Flower was wearing a light blue suit with blue shirt and a black and white tie with a zig-zag motif. He'd set things off with polished brown loafers and what looked like white tennis socks. Rebus sat down next to him and realised his own shoes could do with a polish. There was a speck of grease from the bacon roll on his shirt.

Flower attempted an unselfconscious laugh, and Rebus realised how desperate the man 'See, John,' said the Farmer, 'you always have to make a joke of things. Which left Alister Flower. Flower sat to attention; Rebus had never seen the trick before. He had his back to both when he spoke. It was like he'd assumed a new, much greater mass. Rebus walked thoughtfully back to the CID room.

Gill was already there, reading a pathology report. He didn't budge till she stopped and looked up at him. But Rebus noticed she'd already changed a few things. Rebus brought out a packet of cigarettes. She closed the door, then went to Lauderdale's desk, resting against it, folding her arms.

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I hear you and Dr Aitken have split up. Don't go thinking you can jump me a few times before you dive back in the pool. She went behind the desk and sat down. No sign that they ever knew the girl. Howdenhall checked the car; there are none of her prints inside. He loaned the desperadoes his car. Plus they were sub-letting his council house. We might want to ask him a few follow-up questions.

I know your reputation, John. It was bad enough when I knew you, but the story goes that it's even worse these days. I don't want trouble. It had started snowing. He didn't know why people called Hugh always ended up nicknamed Shug, There were a lot of things he didn't know, and never would know. He wished he'd spent his time in jail bettering himself. He supposed he'd bettered himself in some ways: But he knew he wasn't educated, not like his cell-mate. His cell-mate had been really clever, a man of substance.

Not like Shug at all; chalk and cheese, if you came down to it. But he'd taught Shug a lot. And he'd been a friend. Surrounded by people, a jail could still be a lonely place without a friend. Then again, what difference would it have made if he'd been brainier?

None at all really, not a jot. But he was going to make a difference to his life this evening. It was another grievous night, a wind that was like walking through razor-blades.

Councillor Tom Gillespie wasn't expecting many souls to make the trek to his surgery. He'd get a few complaints from the regulars about frozen and burst pipes, maybe a question about the cold weather allowance, and that would be about it. Depending on your politics. He smiled 46 across the room towards the extravagance he called a secretary, then studied the art on the classroom walls. He always held his surgery in this school, third Thursday of every month during term-time.

Between consultations he would catch up on correspondence, dictating letters into a hand-held recorder. For general political matters, matters relating to his party, there was a separate admin assistant. Which was why, as Gillespie's wife had pointed out on numerous occasions, a private secretary was such an extravagance.

But as the councillor had argued and he was very good at argument , if he was going to get ahead of the crowd he needed to be busier than the other councillors, and above all he needed to seem to be busier. Short term extravagance, long term gain.

You always had to be thinking in the long term. He used the same rationale when he resigned his job. As he explained to his wife Audrey, half the district councillors had other jobs beside the council, but this meant they could not concentrate all their energies on council or political business.

He needed to seem so busy that he had no time for a day job. Council committee meetings took place during the day, and now he was free to attend them.

He had other arguments in his favour, too. By working on council business during the day, his evenings and weekends were relatively free. And besides and here he would smile and squeeze Audrey's hand , it wasn't as if they needed the money. Which was just as well, since his district councillor's basic allowance was 4, pounds pence Finally, he would tell her, this was the most important time in local government for twenty years.

In seven weeks' time there would be new elections and the change would begin, turning the City of Edinburgh into a single-tier 47 authority to be called the City of Edinburgh Council. How could he afford not to be at the centre of these changes? Audrey, though, had won one condition: Helena Profitt fitted that bill. Thinking of it, he never really won an argument with Audrey, not outright. She just snarled and spat and started slamming doors. He didn't mind. He needed her money. Her money bought him time.

If only it could save him the purgatory of these Thursday nights in the near-deserted school. His secretary brought her knitting with her, and he could measure how quiet things had been by how much she got done in the hour.

He watched her needles work, then went back to the letter he was writing. It wasn't an easy letter to write; he'd been trying for over a week now.

It wasn't the sort of thing he could trust to dictation, and so far all he'd managed were his address at the top and the date beneath. The school was quiet, the corridors well lit, the radiators burning away. The caretaker was busy somewhere, as were four cleaners. When the cleaners and the councillor had gone home, the caretaker would lock up for the night. One of the cleaners was a lot younger than the others, and had a tidy body on her. He wondered if she lived in his ward.

He looked at the clock on the wall again. Twenty minutes to go. He heard something slam, and looked over to the classroom door. A short man was standing there, looking deathly cold in a thin bomber-style jacket and shabby trousers. He had his hands deep in his jacket pockets and didn't look inclined to remove them. Councillor Gillespie stood up and smiled.

Then the man turned to Helena Profitt. Helena 48 Profitt and the man seemed to be studying one another.

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Then he unzipped his jacket and drew out a sawn-off shotgun. A pail of dirty water clattered to the wooden floor. A sound like a tyre exploding came from the classroom. Miss Profitt, who had fallen to her knees, was joined by the other women. It was the councillor, almost in control of his legs.

He looked for all the world like one of the paintings on the classroom wall, only it wasn't paint that spattered his face and his hair. Rebus stood in the classroom and looked at the paintings. Some of them were pretty good. The colours weren't always right, but the shapes were identifiable. Blue house, yellow sun, brown horse in a green field, and a red sky speckled with grey The room had been cordoned off by the simple act of placing two chairs in the doorway.

The body was still there, spreadeagled on the floor in front of the teacher's desk. Dr Curt was examining it. It was messy all right. There wasn't much left of the 49 head except for the lower jaw and chin.

Stick a shotgun in your gub and heave-ho with both barrels and you couldn't expect to win Mr Glamorous Suicide. You wouldn't even make the last sixteen. Rebus stood beside the teacher's desk. There was a pad of lined paper on it. Scribbled on the top sheet was the message, 'Mr Hamilton - allotment allocation', alongside an address and telephone number.

Blood had soaked through the paper. Rebus peeled off this first sheet. The sheet below was obviously the start of a letter. Gillespie had got as far as the word 'Dear'. Curt looked at him. I gather we've a witness? It was time to search the body. Initially, they were looking for ID. His hair was damp and lay in clump against his skull. He kept rubbing a hand over his face and then checking the palm for blood.

His eyes were red-rimmed from crying. Rebus sat across from him in the headteacher's office. The office had been locked, but Rebus had commandeered it when the head arrived at the school.

The cleaning ladies were being given mugs of tea in the staffroom. Siobhan Clarke was there with them, doing her best to calm down Miss Profitt. Gillespie shook his head. He was studying the man. He'd seen his photo before, in election rubbish pushed through the letterbox.

Gillespie was in his mid-forties. He wore red-rimmed glasses normally, but had left them on the desk. His hair was very thin and wispy on top, but curled thickly either side of his pate. His eyes had thick dark lashes, not just from the crying, and his chin was weak. Rebus couldn't have called him handsome. There was a simple gold band on his wedding finger. Then he asked who Helena was.

Then he turned the shotgun around and stuck the end of it in his mouth. There's something in you, Rebus thought, something below the surface that's a lot cooler, a lot more deliberate. How are your surgeries publicised? Plus I put up notices in doctors' surgeries, that sort of place. That's not in my ward. Miss Profitt was still bawling, her few utterances barely decipherable.

She was older than the councillor, maybe by as much as ten years. She clutched a large shopping-bag on her lap as if it was a lifebuoy keeping her afloat. Maybe it was.

She was short, with fair hair which had been permed a while back, most of it lost now. A pair of knitting needles protruded from her bag.

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She sniffed, calming a little. What did you think he was going to do? Maybe he was going to hold Tom hostage, or shoot him, something like that. Who knows why these days? Rebus looked to Siobhan Clarke, who shrugged.

She was suggesting they leave it till morning. But Rebus knew better than that; he knew the tricks the memory could play if you left things too long. She sniffed, blew her nose, wiped her eyes. Then she took a deep breath and nodded. How long was there between you running out of the classroom and hearing the shots?

I fell to my knees and that's when I heard The Scene of Crime Unit had taken over, and the photographer, who had finally arrived, was changing film. What about opening the school? We'll be in and out tomorrow Has someone gone to that address? Like you say, it's only five minutes away. He had a taste in his lungs and a scent in his nostrils, and he hoped the cold might deaden them. He could walk into a pub and deaden them that way, but he didn't.

He remembered a winter years back, much colder than this. Minus twenty, Siberian weather. The pipes on the outside of the tenement had frozen solid, so that nobody's waste water could run away. The smell had been bad, but you could always open a window.

Death wasn't like that; it didn't go away just because you opened a window, or took a walk. There was ice underfoot, and he skited a couple of times. Another good reason for not having a drink: He'd copied McAnally's address into his notebook. He knew the block anyway; it was a couple of streets up from the burnt-out shell of the Crazy Hose Saloon. There was an intercom at the main door.

His toes were going numb as he pressed the button.