Ian Rankin writes crisp, dark, atmospheric police procedurals set in Edinburgh featuring Inspector John Rebus, a brooding loner with occasional regrets, given to bottling his strong feelings. Rankin's unadorned, complexly nuanced writing, his ability to breathe life into characters as much with what is not said as what is, makes the series a particular stand-out.
Since his novella "Death Is Not the End," focuses on a subplot in Rankin's 1999 novel "Dead Souls," I expected a sequel. But as Rankin explains in a note at the end, the novella was written first. The story concerns a missing young man, 23 years old, the son of an old highschool girlfriend. The narrative follows Rebus' investigation over much the same time period as "Dead Souls," though Rankin extended his investigation in the novel. And there is a different subplot featuring crooked casino operators.
New readers, or those who missed "Dead Souls" will enjoy the journey into Edinburgh's seamy side - the grim amorality of those who make their living from "punters" - and Rebus' exploration of his own past and the choices that have made him who he is.