Tag Archives: Malcolm Fox

Review: Saints of the Shadow Bible by Ian Rankin

14th January 2014

pg1*I received this book from the publisher Little, Brown in exchange for an honest review.
Rebus is back on the force after it increases the retirement age in Saints of the Shadow Bible. Though he had to come back as a lowly DS under his former protege Siobhan, now a DI herself, Rebus is eager to get back to the business of solving crime in a more legitimate capacity, having left Cold Cases by the wayside.
The pair’s newest case involves a car accident with a few fishy details. But Rebus’s attention is derailed by a meeting with his former team. At his first posting 30 years ago, Rebus was inducted into the Saints of the Shadow Bible, a group of men who did what they had to – legal or not – to get a collar. When Malcolm Fox of the Complaints (internal affairs) department comes calling, Rebus isn’t sure where he stands. Did his buddies let a murderer go to cover up another crime? Or is this just a case of new procedure versus old?
Rebus is never one to sit idly by and allow investigations to go smoothly, and this novel is no different. What his superiors fail to understand, however, is Rebus’s intent. He has no will to cover up any crime, past or present. In fact, it is his intense need to uncover the truth that so often gets him into trouble as he blasts past procedure.
In Saints of the Shadow Bible, Rankin pulls his past few novels together. When he first introduced Malcolm Fox, I eyed him warily, but here, Rankin pulls Rebus, Clarke (Siobhan) and Fox together brilliantly. Specifically, Fox, I think, begins to grudgingly respect Rebus and his methods, even if he would never approve them. Siobhan, on the other hand, is both helped and hurt by Rebus. She’s a smart detective in her own right, and much of that is owed to Rebus, but she also knows she must tread the line carefully, particularly as a woman in the department.
In some ways, watching Rebus in Saints of the Shadow Bible is watching a man deftly and determinedly setting a path of self destruction. There are crucial moments when instead of doing something just because he thinks it’s right, Rebus seems to make a misstep to intentionally make his situation worse, doggedly holding on to his old ways. He’s obviously facing his mortality – literally and figuratively – both after seeing his former boss in bad health and seeing his methods and means of policing fall by the wayside. Yet it only makes me more eager to see what Rankin does with his character next. Though part of me is sad that I can feel the end coming, I also love waiting to see how or if Rebus will evolve as the world around him does. Which is, of course, why I love this series so much: Rebus is no static character, doomed by his maker into an eternal pattern of solving crime, and watching him interact with other solid characters continues to be a true pleasure.
Saints of the Shadow Bible is out today; add it to your Goodreads shelf.

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.