A rebus is one of those puzzles where pictures or symbols are used to represent words or parts of words. There is always one in the Boston Globe, and my aforementiond son (he of Holmes fascination) is pretty good at figuring them out. I'm still trying to figure out the puzzle of Edinburgh-based Inspector John Rebus, the creation of writer Ian Rankin. Is he dark and disturbed, which he seemed to be in the first, Knots and Crosses? Just jaded, which the liberal use of the word "son" when talking withe junior officers would suggest, in Hide and Seek? Or falling into the crusty-but-decent fellow trap, which is indicated by his kindly treatment of the problematic Tracy, also in Hide and Seek?
In this second of Rankin's Rebus novels, our "hero" is quickly convinced that the seemingly-routine death of a junkie is more than just your garden-variety overdose, esp. when it appears that there may have been some dabbling in the occult at the scene of the crime. But since no one else thinks this case is worth pursuing, he's having to do it on his own time, while serving reluctantly on his boss' anti-drugs committee, which just happens to be stocked with the top male representatives of Edinburgh's ruling caste. I'm not giving anything away to say that these threads tie up into a moderately ripping detective story. Still there is one of those Ian Rutledge-like quiet conversations that moves the plot forward, and the abrupt resolution makes sense with the plot but isn't completely satisfying. There is something slightly thin about these stories, a bit meager in development and detail. Maybe it is a Scottish thing.
I think the jury of me is out on Rebus, but I'll give him another go.