The Complaints

The Complaints

Book rating: 04 Paperback

By (author) Ian Rankin

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Product description

Nobody 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.

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Author information

Ian Rankin is a regular No.1 bestseller, and has received numerous awards, including the prestigious DIAMOND DAGGER, and in 2009 he was inducted into the CWA Hall of Fame. He lives with his family in Edinburgh, and in 2003 received an OBE for his services to literature.

Customer reviews

By Norman Newman 06 Sep 2011 4

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.

Review quote

'If you haven't tried Rankin, this is an excellent place to start.' -- Sarah Broadhurst SUNDAY TIMES 'Ian Rankin efficiently exorcises the ghost of Rebus in this post-Rebus stand-alone novel, set in the police complaints department in a recession-riven Edinburgh' METRO 'Another slick crime caper from a master at the top of his game' (4 stars) NEWS OF THE WORLD 'a familiar Rankin blend of whodunnit, workplace soap opera and a spiky guide to Edinburgh, handled with flair and finesse. With The Complaints, the author conclusively shows that he can put together a satisfyingly complex detetective story without a Rolling Stones-loving, former SAS sleuth at its centre' -- John Dugdale SUNDAY TIMES 'The first Rankin novel featuring Edinburgh policeman, Malcolm Fox, a very different character from DI Rebus, who works for the unpopular Complaints & Conduct department of the Edinburgh force' GOOD BOOK GUIDE 'Ian Rankin showed their was life after Rebus by creating a new set of Scottish police characters in the very satisfying THE COMPLAINTS' DEADLY PLEASURES