Review: The Complaints by Ian Rankin

Friday Sep 18 2009
by Jack Bumsted

All readers of crime fiction mourned when Ian Rankin announced that he was retiring John Rebus, and many were disappointed in his first post-Rebus effort, Doors Open, which was less like a Rebus than a Donald Westlake caper book.  Everybody likes John Dortmunder, but not in place of Scotland’s most famous cop.  I am pleased to announce that readers still suffering from Rebus withdrawal will be absolutely satisfied with Ian Rankin’s latest effort, The Complaints.  The author has created a special police department in Edinburgh  – the Complaints and Conduct Department, which investigates wrongdoing by other cops – and a new character in Malcolm Fox, who is in certain respects deliberately not very Rebus-like.  For one thing, he has given up drinking.  But in other respects Fox is a lot like Rebus, particularly in his soul-searching commitment to his job and in the kind of morally complex cases he finds thrown his way.  Fox lives and works in a different part of Edinburgh from Rebus – it is more middle-class -- but the local colour is equally well-done, and readers familiar with the city will recognize the locales.  This one is a real winner.

J. M. Bumsted 

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