- Format: trade paperback
- first published in Great Britain by Orion Books 2011
- ISBN 978-0-7528-8954-2
- 373 pages
- Source: my local library
- #2 in the Malcolm Fox series
- Author website
Malcolm Fox and his team from Internal Affairs are back. They've been sent to Fife to investigate whether fellow cops covered up for a corrupt colleague, Detective Paul Carter. Carter has been found guilty of misconduct with his own uncle, also in the force, having proved to be his nephew's nemesis.
But what should be a simple job is soon complicated by intimations of conspiracy and cover-up - and a brutal murder, a murder committed with a weapon that should not even exist.
The spiralling investigation takes Fox back in time to 1985, a year of turmoil in British political life. Terrorists intent on a split between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom were becoming more brazen and ruthless, sending letter-bombs and poisonous spores to government offices, plotting kidnaps and murder, and trying to stay one step ahead of the spies sent to flush them out.
Fox has a duty to get at the truth, while the body count rises, the clock starts ticking, and he fights for his professional and personal life.
When Rankin introduced Malcolm Fox who works in the Dark Side of the Complaints and Conduct section of Edinburgh's Lothian and Borders Police HQ in THE COMPLAINTS we all wondered whether he was going to replace John Rebus, forcibly retired. The answer I think is that he is a very different character but no less a detective, very largely also a lone wolf, but also more careful to cover his back than Rebus was.
The title of Fox's team has been changed from "Complaints and Conduct" to "Professional Ethics and Standards" but their mission is the same: to investigate claims of police corruption. And when they turn up at a police station they are about as popular as lepers: the boss is at head office, no secure interview room available, people to be interviewed are off sick with lingering illnesses or they are so involved in a current case that they can't spare the time. The air of suspicion and opposition is thick and palpable.
So Fox decides to interview the person who originally laid the complaint about his own nephew: a former police officer who now runs his own successful security firm, and lives in a difficult to find cottage well out of town. Fox interviews him and finds Alan Carter is investigating the death of a political leader, Francis Vernal, nearly twenty years earlier. Strictly speaking the investigation that erupts when Alan Carter is found murdered and his nephew is taken in for questioning should not be of interest to the Complaints, but Fox can't help thinking there must be connections. His interest is further spiked when he finds a picture of his own uncle with Francis Vernal.
This is a carefully layered and constructed tale. We learn more about Malcolm Fox's family and his background, and his relationships with the rest of his team. And it is certainly well written.
I have seen reviews whether bloggers have said they prefer the first in the series, THE COMPLAINTS, but I think I enjoyed THE IMPOSSIBLE DEAD as much.
My rating: 4.7
Other reviews to check
- Interview with Ian Rankin by the Guardian about the research that went into the book.
- Petrona who asks if the central theme has run out of steam.
- Verdict Book Reviews: her book of the month
HIDE & SEEK
4.4, BEGGARS BANQUET
4.4, WITCH HUNT - writing as Jack Harvey
4.5, THE FALLS