Dead Souls (Rankin novel)

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Dead Souls
First edition
Author Ian Rankin
Country Scotland
Language English
Genre Detective fiction
Publisher Orion Books
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 406 pages
ISBN 0-7528-0723-4
OCLC 60611208
Preceded by The Hanging Garden
Followed by Set in Darkness

Dead Souls is a 1999 crime novel by Ian Rankin. It is the tenth of the Inspector Rebus novels. It was the third episode in the Rebus television series starring John Hannah, airing in 2001.

Plot summary[edit]

While investigating a poisoner at Edinburgh Zoo, Detective Inspector John Rebus sees a known paedophile photographing children. After a chase ending in the sea lion enclosure, Rebus decides to 'out' the man, in spite of assurances that he is trying to reform. As a campaign against the man starts, Rebus hears that the son of an ex-girlfriend has gone missing and starts investigating his disappearance from a nightclub with a mysterious blonde.

A convicted killer comes back from the U.S. having served his time in prison, with an agenda he wants to pursue. Rankin incorporated the novella Death Is Not the End as the missing person plot-line of this novel.


The title refers to Joy Division's song "Dead Souls" and to the 1842 Nikolai Gogol novel Dead Souls, quotes from which appear at the beginnings of the two parts of the book.


The book won the French Grand Prix de Littérature Policière upon its publication there in 2004.

Television adaptation[edit]

The television adaptation has significant plot differences from the novel. These concern the fate of the missing person, the nature of the relationship between Rebus and his ex-girlfriend, and the character of her husband.