There are two sides of Edinburgh, Scotland. There's the side that tourists see: the city of Grayfriar's Bobby, of the annual Summer Festival, of the quaint pubs and the scenic castle sitting on a hill called Arthur's Throne. Then there's the other side of Edinburgh, the domain of Detective Inspector John Rebus. This Edinburgh is one of boarded up housing tenements inhabited by the hopeless, a city of AIDS ridden junkies and prostitutes, of deals made in back alleys at midnight amid violence and sometimes death.
Inspector Rebus is sent to investigate what appears to be a junkie's death in an abandoned housing estate. The man's body is laid out spread-eagle with Satanic symbols and candles decorating the room. While the other cops are convinced it's just another all-too-familiar overdose victim, Rebus gets the inkling there is more to it than meets the eye. A young female witness is found and tells Rebus that the last words the dead man said were "Hide! Hide!". Assisted by his protegé, Rebus explores the dark side of Edinburgh, seeking justice for a young man too easily dismissed both in life and in death.
Ian Rankin is the best mystery writer I've ever read. The character of Inspector John Rebus is melancholy, brooding, cynical, funny, intelligent, a workaholic and a perfectionist. He's both addicted and repelled by his work. Being a copper has absorbed his entire life. Rankin's style has been described as "Tartan Noir" and the label is fitting. But to think this book and the series it's part of are dreary would be a mistake. Rankin takes the reader to the depths of dark grittiness, then surprises with bright flashes of humor. Watch for tongue in cheek touches, such as a detective named Holmes and a superior named Watson. Do yourself a good turn and read not only HIDE & SEEK, but the entire Inspector Rebus series.