Sunday, February 07, 2010

The Complaints by Ian Rankin

Protagonist: Malcolm Fox
Setting: Edinburgh
Rating: 4.7
Insp. John Rebus has retired, so from Rankin we now get a different type of cop: Malcolm Fox, who works for The Complaints and Conduct, the cops who investigate other cops. He and his team have just finished a case involving veteran officer Glen Heaton, meaning The Complaints has stirred up some more anger. Fox is also dealing with his sister, who is being physically abused by her live-in boyfriend, when he's asked to start investigating another cop who worked with Heaton, this time as part of an online child pornography group. Before Fox can even begin, he gets a call from that same officer, Jamie Breck, with news that his sister's boyfriend has been killed. Although Breck is one of the main investigators and this might appear a conflict of interest, Fox's boss tells him to continue investigating Breck. He does -- and finds Breck to be intelligent, charming, very likable. Can he really be a pedophile? And what about all the coincidences starting to build up?

The novel is all about rights and wrongs, as we try to figure out just which cop is bent -- and which is honest. As Fox mulls:

He wondered: did it bother him that the world wasn't entirely fair? That justice was seldom sufficient? There would always be people ready to pocket a wad of banknotes in exchange for a favour. There would always be people who played the system and wrung out every penny. Some people -- lots of people -- would keep getting away with it.

'But you're not one of them,' he told himself.

Rankin gives us a great story, a great protagonist and more than enough reason to believe there's life after Rebus.

There's a good interview with Rankin about this book and future plans at

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