The Impossible Dead by Ian Rankin

25th April 2012

*I bought this book.

Dirty cops. A decades-old murder. A gun that shouldn’t exist. Malcolm Fox isn’t a detective, and it rankles from time to time. He’s part of the Complaints, and no one likes the Complaints, especially in Kirkcaldy. Detective Paul Carter has been found guilty of misconduct, but Malcolm and his team – Joe Naysmith and Tony Kaye – aren’t there for Carter. They’re there, instead, to determine any wrongdoing of Carter’s friends on the force. But the case gets complicated when someone involved in the case gets killed, and Fox realizes his detective skills may be rusty, but they certainly aren’t gone.

I’ll just go on record for saying I like this book, in part, because it references Inspector Rebus from Rankin’s famed series. It was a very small reference, but I caught it, and my heart warmed. I mentioned in a recent post about reading for comfort that reading Rankin feels like “coming home,” and it’s true for me. Even though Fox is no Rebus, he’s still a fully-developed character, one with an elderly dad and a frazzled sister, one who feels he doesn’t manage his time all that well and who wants to develop his already-talented team.

As for the mystery itself, Rankin uses The Complaints and their current case to draw out a crime from the 80s when Edinburgh was full of political strife and radicals. Fox shouldn’t be investigating, but the further he pulls at the thread, the more he realizes that those in charge can’t or won’t uncover the truth – then or now. And part of what makes Fox so good in the Complaints – and Rankin so good in general is his obsession with the truth.

I wasn’t sold on the first in this series, The Complaints, but as I mentioned in my last post about Rankin, I believe that was much more my own biases and love of his Rebus series. This book, though, it was solid, and I’m back to playing the waiting game for the newest from Ian Rankin.

  • heidenkind

    The cover reminds me of The Onion Field.

    • I can see that.

  • I have to wait for this to come out in tradepaperback to get it, and it’s killing me. For me, Rankin’s Scotland is like going home after being away for a year (the usual time between books). After the last Rebus, I thought I was done with Ian Rankin, but Malcolm Fox is so not Rebus, except for his unwavering need to figure out WTF is really going on, verbal warning, official reprimands, beatings, enough to deter the weak, but not Rankin’s characters. Thanks for the review, must check amazon(dot)com for a TPB release day, hope, hope! (but buy local and indie!)

    • It wasn’t the best review, but I find it hard to review his books, maybe because I can’t quite convey how much I like his writing style.

      And I totally get that “going home” feeling. It’s really fantastic.