Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Complaints by Ian Rankin

Why is it that we enjoy reading about grumpy policemen and their failed relationships and dysfunctional families? Is it because their circumstances are so similar to our own? Or maybe it’s because we can see they are as fallible as the rest of us …

In Ian Rankin’s newest book, The Complaints, we are introduced to Malcolm Fox, a detective in an Edinburgh Police Complaints office where not only does the general public disdain him, but his workmates do too. The story starts just as Fox and his team have completed an investigation of a colleague that results in a prosecution.

This story takes place within an 18-day period and twists and turns brilliantly. As a complaints officer Fox has always been able to trust his direct superiors, but as events unfurl he finds this is no longer possible. We share his worries about caring for his aging dad and the importance of being there for his sister. Coincidence then seems to push him personally closer to the subject of a new investigation. And as more things go wrong Fox and his new comrade get even more involved.

Rankin’s Rebus character has become much loved. Fox has the potential to become just as well regarded, warts and all. The Edinburgh setting seems to accurately reflect the city as it encountered the economic problems of 2008. And although the politics of policing the police are convincingly described, Rankin’s strength lies in his strong narrative and his descriptions of characters and events. Well done, Mr Rankin. This will make a great summer read.

Published October 2009. $37.99

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