The Complaints by Ian Rankin
Ian Rankin was born in Cardenden in the Kingdom of Fife, Scotland in 1960. He was educated at Beath High School and graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1982. While working towards his PhD in Scottish Literature, he was writing novels. He did not complete his PhD. He is probably best known for his fictional character, John Rebus. The first novel with this character was published in 1987. The Rebus books are now translated into 22 languages and are bestsellers on several continents. Ian Rankin won the Chandler-Fulbright Award, and has received two Dagger Awards for the year’s best short story and the Gold Dagger for fiction.
Rankin has also received honorary degrees from the universities of Abertay, St Andrews, and Edinburgh. He recently received the OBE for services to literature, and opted to receive this honour in his home city of Edinburgh, where he lives with his wife Miranda and their two sons Jack and Kit near the other Scottish authors authors JK Rowling and Alexander McCall Smith.
With The Complaints, Ian Rankin introduces a new protagonist, Malcolm Fox. Fox is also a Scottish police detective, but he belongs to the Complaints and Conduct Division, usually known as Complaints. Fox and his colleagues investigate other police officers who have been accused of improper conduct. Complaints is a thriller that opens with Fox being assigned to investigate another officer, Detective Jamie Breck, who is accused of involvement in child pornography. To complicate matters, the abusive boyfriend of Fox’s sister is murdered and Breck is assigned to that case. Malcolm Fox is a potential suspect in respect to the boyfriend’s murder.
Fox and Breck are wary of each other but each needing the other’s help. Fox can not help looking into the boyfriend’s death. Inevitably this gets him into trouble. The murdered boyfriend was connected with a developer who committed suicide around the same time of the murder. In the end Fox and Breck do not know who to trust. They both seem to be involved in apparent conspiracy to destroy each of them.
This is a good read, and Fox is an interesting protagonist, but I do not find him as compelling as Rebus. Fox does not drink and he is not as tortured as John Rebus. Perhaps Rankin will develop him over the years as he has done with Rebus. Also this plot is a bit contrived. Still this is a good book and I have no doubt I will read more book about Malcolm Fox. Ian Rankin is the master of UK crime fiction. This is a brilliantly crafted novel that challenged my deductive reasoning process with its plot complexity and surprising twists of this unique story. I highly recommend this book. Its sequel is, The Impossible Dead, is reviewed on this site: