With the publication of the novel Exit Music, author Ian Rankin brought the career of Detective Inspector Rebus (DI) to a close. Since 1985 he had patrolled the streets of Edinburgh, Scotland and its surrounding environs dealing with everything from organized crime, corrupt politicians and cops, serial killers, and drug dealers. After twenty odd - some would say very odd - years on the force and twenty books that followed his exploits, he certainly can be forgiven for taking his retirement. Yet, I know I'm not alone when I say I will miss him.
One of the things that made DI John Rebus such an appealing character was how human he was. He came with his own collection of flaws, a failed marriage, an obsession with popular music, and a past that was hidden in the shadows of Britain's Official Secrets Act from his days serving in the Special Armed Services (S.A.S). Throughout the series there were many times that Rankin forced Rebus to look in the mirror and examine himself, and as often as not, it wasn't the prettiest of pictures.
In the books featuring John Rebus, and the various police officers he worked with and the criminals he contested with for control of the streets of his city, Ian Rankin not only created a memorable lead character, he brought a world to life. While the Detective Inspector was the focal point around which all the novels revolved, the city of Edinburgh was always intriguing, and often times as complex as Rebus himself. It was just as much a recurring character as Detective Sergeant Siobhan Clarke, and developed nearly as fully.
The British Broadcasting Corporation's (BBC) initial attempt at adapting Rankin's books to television starred John Hannah as DI Rebus. While Hannah is a wonderful actor, his performance as DI Rebus lacked a certain authenticity. The shows might have been faithful adaptations of the novels, but they were missing the full weight of John Rebus' character. In the second go round instead of worrying as much about being faithful to the books being adapted, the series has focused more on the character of Rebus, and the atmosphere generated by contrasting the physical beauty of Edinburgh with the gritty reality of what lies beneath the surface of the picture post-card scenery.