Ian Rankin is a Scottish crime-novel writer. Rankin kick-started his writing career in 1986. His first published book was The Flood. Rankin is best known for his ongoing crime novel series about an ex-military man named Inspector Rebus. The first book in the Inspector Rebus series was Knots and Crosses, published in 1987. This turned out to be one of the best books of its time, which was especially remarkable because Rankin was still attending university at the time.

Exit Music is another Rebus novel. Initially regarded as the last book in the series, the rumors eventually turned out to be untrue following the release of the next book, Standing in Another Man’s Grave.

Rankin is the number one crime writer in the UK. Apart from his critically acclaimed Rebus series, Rankin has also written several plays, short stories as well as graphic novels. Two new Rebus novels are in the pipeline after Rankin renewed his contract with his publisher in 2022.


Exit Music is the seventeenth book in Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus series. The book sees the end of Rebus’ career as a detective following his retirement. Working on his final case with his partner, Siobhan, Rebus begrudgingly takes on the mundane case of a Russian poet’s murder. However, he ends up getting involved in something bigger, wondering if he would be able to close the case before his last day as a detective inspector.


As part of an ongoing series,Β Exit Music apparently begins from the middle of the story. Rebus’ image as an intimidating but respected detective is portrayed early on through Siobhan’s eyes.

Rebus is somewhat rough around the edges. He is an ex-serviceman and has a drinking problem that plagues him throughout the story. This dependence on alcohol gets especially strong when he is alone. He has no personal life. One cannot help feeling sorry for the lonely old fellow.

Rebus’ personality is both strong and brittle; it is prone to breaking down rather easily under the right amount of pressure. This paradox of his personality stands out as one of the highlights of the book. Besides, the admiration and slight pity Siobhan feels toward his partner stitches in the overall impact Rebus has had over the years. The introduction to Edinburgh’s streets and local spots makes for an interesting addition to the story. These descriptions act as a third character in the book, for Rebus’ emotions are tied to both the place and the author.

The case itself takes an unexpected turn in the second half of the book when other powerful entities enter the scene as Rankin decides to go rogue. On more than one occasion, readers find themselves unwittingly weighing the decisions made by the detective. These are moments of silent contemplation with very few, if any, action scenes, making Exit Music an ideal read for a lazy afternoon.


The first half of the book is agonizingly slow. The readers feel as bored as Rebus himself at the start of the murder case. In fact, for readers planning to skip over to this novel as a standalone book, Exit Music may seem to lack depth throughout. It is highly recommended to read the preceding (sixteen) novels before picking this one up.


It seemed to him a very Edinburgh thing. Welcoming, but not very.

‘Thing about that ladder, Shiv, each rung you climb there’s another arse waiting to be licked.’


Ameya Score:

All in all, Exit Music is one of the better books in the Inspector Rebus series. Widely seen as an end-of-an-era book, this nostalgic novel can leave long-time Rebus fans with a bittersweet feeling. That said, Ameya highly recommends reading the previous books in the series before giving this one a try.

…now that you’re here

Ameya runs on a purely non-profit basis. With no tangible products on offer, advertisements and donations are our only two sources of keeping this blog up and running. You could convey your support to us with something as little as $5 - that's less than what a Starbucks would cost!