The Complaints (Paperback)
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DescriptionNobody likes The Complaints - they're the cops who investigate other cops. Complaints and Conduct Department, to give them their full title, but known colloquially as 'the Dark Side', or simply 'The Complaints'. Malcolm Fox works for The Complaints. He's just had a result, and should be feeling good about himself. But he's middle-aged, sour and unwell. He also has a father in a care home and a sister who persists in an abusive relationship. In the midst of an aggressive Edinburgh winter, the reluctant Fox is given a new task. There's a cop called Jamie Breck, and he's dirty. Problem is, no one can prove it. But as Fox takes on the job, he learns that there's more to Breck than anyone thinks. This knowledge will prove dangerous, especially when murder intervenes.
- Published: 01 December 2011
- Format: Paperback 496 pages
- ISBN 13: 9781409103479 ISBN 10: 1409103471
- Sales rank: 6,826
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Reviews for The Complaints
A Rebus novel without Rebus
After Rankin's literary creation DI John Rebus took compulsory retirement, it is now the turn of Inspector Malcolm Fox to star in Rankin's novels. Fox is almost the complete opposite of Rebus: Rebus was in CID, Fox in Complaints and Conduct (specifically the Professional Standards Unit, which investigates 'bent coppers'). Rebus was a hard drinker and smoker, whereas Fox is teetotal and a non-smoker. Rebus is a loner, whereas Fox has a sister and a father whom he visits all the time.
So the stage was set for a different kind of novel, showing police work from a different angle. And indeed, 'The Complaints' starts out completely differently from a Rebus novel. But after four or five chapters, suddenly the style of the novel became familiar. Fox gets suspended but continues investigating; the plot thickens and thickens and only Fox is able to get the insights which lead him to a conclusion. In effect, this is a Rebus novel without Rebus.
That isn't to say that this is a bad novel; on the contrary, it is gripping, intriguing, full of suspense and one is never sure where it is going to lead. Those who enjoy the Rebus novels which enjoy this one as well. But I had expected a different style, and in this Rankin does not deliver. One aspect which did not exist in the Rebus novels is the family: Fox feels responsible for his father who is living in an old age home. The episodes are handled very realistically.
Nitpicking: there is a conversation between Fox and a bouncer. The latter was released from prison just under two years ago, yet he is the father of an eighteen month old child. Assuming that there were no conjugal visits, the age of the child doesn't add up (unless of course the bouncer is not the biological father).
Fox is not a music lover like Rebus. Instead of listening to the Rolling Stones and dropping musical references all over the place, Fox might listen to FM Classical but generally listens to a radio channel called 'Birdsong' which plays ... continuous birdsong. But Rankin still manages to drop in a subtle in-joke: one of Fox's colleagues is called Tony Kaye, which just happens to be the name of the original organist in Yes. by Norman Newman