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Set in Edinburgh, the mercurial Detective Inspector John Rebus's investigations lead him through the city's ancient beauty and into its more sinister quarters.
Rebus investigates a series of murders where the killer leaves distinctive clues by the butchered bodies of his victims.
A Kurdish asylum seeker is murdered on a notorious Edinburgh estate in an apparent race-hate attack, but Rebus suspects there's more to it. A local MSP reports a missing Kosovan girl, last seen with a known criminal, who also seems to have vanished.
The body of a missing prostitute is found, and the circumstances recall an unsolved murder from twenty years before. Rebus is convinced that the prime suspect from the earlier case has struck again.
Rebus investigates a shooting at Stoneymount College that has left two pupils and an instructor dead and another boy seriously injured. The evidence implicates one of the deceased, but Rebus has other ideas.
A charity campaigner is caught with a prostitute during a raid on a brothel. Rebus heads a double murder enquiry when the man's wife and another woman are found dead in connected incidents.
A man shoots himself in the offices of an investment bank. Rebus is tipped off to a possible financial scandal, but his investigation is frustrated by powerful vested interests.
The body of an art gallery owner is found dumped on Calton Hill. DS Clarke is put in charge of the investigation, while Rebus is sent back on an occupational therapy course. Far from being redeemed, Rebus falls in with two corrupt officers, who may have been involved in the murder.
The naked bodies of the moderator-elect of the Church of Scotland and the wife of a scrap merchant are found, with their throats cut, in a car parked in an area used by lovers. The woman's jealous husband is an obvious suspect, but could the killer be involved in the church? Meanwhile, Rebus is concerned about a former colleague, who is convinced that staff in his nursing home are trying to kill him.
An unidentified body is found at the Macintosh House Hotel, venue for the World Trade Summit. Later, the body of a Scottish Executive minister is found beneath Edinburgh Castle. Rebus investigates, but soon finds himself at loggerheads with the commander of SO12, in charge of security for the summit.
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