Damon Mee was last seen in a blurred security video on the dance floor of a Kirkaldy nightclub. It was a routine missing persons case and it wasn't even on his patch, but inspector John rebus said he'd look into it as a favour to the boy's father, a friend from his school days. In the deft hands of Ian Rankin, the ripples of the investigation widen rapidly. They lead to the club's greasy owner, to a slightly bent casion croupier, to a drop dead blonde whose name nobody seems to know, to a Hibs striker with a talent for goals and a weakness for gambling and finally to the shadowed men who call the shots in Edinburgh's underworld. When it's over, Rebus has repaid a debt and his boss has received an unexpected birthday present.
Inspector John Rebus of Edinburgh's finest has been knocking readers' socks off for years, in 10 full-length police procedurals by Ian Rankin that star the thoughtful, intelligent Scot. In this neat little novella, he does in 73 pages what many of his peers take three times as long to do--set an interesting scene, solve a crime, develop a character, and allow him to grow and change without sacrificing either pace or plot. Agreeing to track down the missing son of his high school sweetheart and her husband, a friend of his youth, Rebus takes the reader into the gritty back streets and criminal byways of Edinburgh, following Damon Mee from the nightclub where he was last seen through gambling casinos, football matches, and face-to-face encounters with the mobsters who may have been involved in his disappearance. Along the way Rebus confronts his own mortality, the choices he's made, and the obligations he owes his past. The theme of vanishing was spun off from Dead Souls, a full- length novel; according to Rankin, he wrote this brief but fully-realized piece first, then cannibalized part of it as a sub-plot for Dead Souls, "while altering the histories of the characters involved so that both can be read independently." Which is why American fans who haven't yet read Dead Souls will pick it up right after this one. Death Is Not the End is short enough to read on a shuttle flight and still have time for a nap. But like Rankin's other solid Rebus stories, it will stay with you even after you wake up.