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Rankin, Ian - 'The Complaints'
Hardback: 400 pages (Sep. 2009) Publisher: Orion ISBN: 0752889516

When Ian Rankin retired John Rebus at the end of EXIT MUSIC I was anxious to read what he was going to do next, and a little apprehensive.

So, we come to THE COMPLAINTS. In this book Malcolm Fox works in the Complaints and Conduct Department of the Lothian police force. They're the ones who investigate other policemen, so no-one likes them. Fox has personal problems too - a father in a nursing home and a sister in an abusive relationship who won't accept his help.

Fox is asked to investigate a fellow officer called Jamie Breck. Fox has just finished a case against an officer in Breck's division so he's not too popular. Now it looks as though there might be more than one bad apple in that section. However Fox soon learns that there's more to Breck than meets the eye. Throw a murder into the mix and Fox is kept pretty busy. He's under pressure from all sides. Suddenly Fox is under suspicion and he just doesn't know who he can trust, even in his own department.

This is an interesting novel. It's not primarily about solving a murder, like most crime novels, though it does that too. No, this is a novel about morality and ethics. It's about how the police work and how they police themselves. It's about relationships and trust and respect. And it's bang up-to-date, set in the throes of the credit crunch, which is hammering at Edinburgh's economy.

The characters are an interesting bunch, multi-dimensional and totally believable. Fox is a good solid character, just about as far from John Rebus as you could get and still be in the same job. Fox is a recovering alcoholic, so he never takes a drink. And he's a man who never breaks the rules, who works by the book, not just because of the job that he does, but because of the man that he is. It's particularly interesting to see him face some of the dilemmas thrown at him during the course of this book and how he deals with them. I liked Malcolm Fox a lot and I'm hoping we're going to meet more of him in future books.

Rankin is a fine writer, who knows what he's doing and the story just sweeps you along. It's quality stuff, not afraid to ask questions of the reader and it will keep you thinking long after you've put it down. This is good, intelligent crime writing and I wish there was more out there like this.

Pat Austin, England
September 2009

Pat blogs at
Mysterious Yarns.

Details of the author's other books with links to reviews can be found on the Books page.
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 13/09/2009 09:29