Fictional sleuths have a habit of bouncing back from retirement, and Inspector Rebus is the latest to stage a dramatic return five years after he quit the force. The author said there was "unfinished business" with his celebrated character.
Ian Rankin, dubbed "the king of tartan noir" by fellow crime writer James Ellroy, announced at the Hay Festival yesterday that the character would return in a novel called Standing in Another Man's Grave, to be released in November.
He said there was "unfinished business between the two of us" before adding: "He had never really gone away but was working for Edinburgh's cold case unit. And I knew I had a story that was a perfect fit for him."
The novel will be the 18th featuring the Edinburgh detective, a quarter of a century after his debut appearance in Knots and Crosses, and five years since his retirement in Exit Music.
The books have been translated into 22 languages and sold millions of copies around the world. The series has also been adapted for television by ITV.
The author faced protest when he revealed that Rebus would retire. Readers begged for the character to solve more mysteries, and even politicians weighed in.
Scotland's justice minister was jokingly asked by a fellow MSP to raise the retirement age from 60 by five years, so the inspector could stay on.
Mr Rankin said the title of the new book was inspired by a song from the Scottish musician Jackie Leven, who died last year.
The story will bring Rebus into contact with Mr Rankin's latest lead character, Malcolm Fox, of Edinburgh's internal affairs unit.