Inspector Rebus finds himself in hospital at the beginning of the novel, hands bandaged from a scalding. Unfortunately, a petty criminal who had been stalking Rebus's colleague Siobhan Clarke has been found burnt to death in his own home and witnesses saw Rebus with him earlier that night.
A horrific shooting at an Edinburgh private school in which two students are killed as well as an ex-Army loner who appears to have turned the gun on himself draws Rebus's especial attention since one of the victims, Derek Renshaw, is his cousin's son. It is a question of blood, family blood, for Rebus.
If you haven't yet read any Ian Rankin, this book is a great place to start.