Ian Rankin usually lays a foundation of current and past events in his novels. And, in this second Malcolm Fox mystery, he creates a tale reaching back a quarter of a century, when agitation and violence marked efforts for a separate Scotland. Fox, who made his debut in 'The Complaints,' grows exponentially as a protagonist, along with his sidekicks on his Internal Affairs team, Tony Kaye and Joe Naysmith. They are worthy successors to the now retired Rebus, although more subtle in the presentation.
This murder-mystery has its beginnings in an investigation of fellow cops who may have covered up for a corrupt co-worker, Detective Paul Carter, who had been found guilty of misconduct. The original accuser was Carter's uncle, an ex-op himself. When the uncle is found dead, perhaps murdered with a pistol that theoretically did not exist for it should have been destroyed by the police in 1985, and Carter himself dead by drowning shortly afterward, Fox is drawn into his own inquiry outside the aegis of a Complaints review, resurrecting the turmoil of the past and terrorist threats of the present.
Rankin also demonstrates his trademark attention to character development, concentrating much of the story on the deterioration of Fox' father's physical well-being and his relationship with his sister, each with sensitivity and care. At the same time, the author shows his talent for integrating the setting, plot and theme, tightly intertwining the various elements. Highly recommended.
on December 15, 2011
Fox is the new character after the Rebus series. This is the 2nd book. While Fox doesn't draw you in like Rebus did (he needs an empathetic moment), this book is interesting as it's a case within a case. Keeps you on your toes the whole time, what you thought the 'case' was about slowly starts to turn into something else. A very good mystery.
Scottish author Ian Rankin has put away his "Inspector Rebus" character and come up with a second series about an officer working in the "Complaints" section of the Lothian and Borders police department. That officer, Malcolm Fox, returns with his second outing after the first book, "The Complaints". "The Impossible Dead" is an excellent second book in the series.
The Complaints Department is an internal affairs section which investigates those officers who may be referred to as "dirty cops". Of course, the definition of "dirty cop" can range from simple lying about a case to murder committed by a police officer. Malcolm Fox and his two aides, Kaye and Naysmith, have been called from their Edinburgh office to police station in the town of Kirkcaldy, which lies north of Edinburgh across the Firth of Forth. Some "irregularities" have been noted in three or four of the station's officers and what should be, at most, a two or three day investigation by Fox and crew, take on added seriousness as murders occur and the sins of the past come to life as part of the investigation. The past is 1985, a time of Scottish nationalism fervor, and a possible suicide/possible murder of a prominent lawyer active in the cause comes into importance in the murder investigation of 2011.
Ian Rankin does a good job introducing his new character, Malcolm Fox. He is a good cop with some family issues; a sick father and a slacker-sister. The reader "met" Fox and the secondary characters in the first book, and Rankin continues the introduction in the second. The murder case, and those involved in it, are nuanced enough to keep the reader's interest without much "shoot 'em up" action. I'm looking forward to the next in this new series, after having read all the "Rebus" series.
Ian Rankin does it again. He kept me reading for 16 straight hours until I finished his new book. I don't know how he does it; he doesn't have serial killers, gruesome scenes, etc. Just great writing, that kept me turning the pages. If you like Rankin's Rebus series, you'll like this book. If you haven't read the Rebus series, then start with this book. (Written Oct 16, 2011. Amazon misplaced my first review.)