Thursday, June 28, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: The Impossible Dead by Ian Rankin

The sequel to Ian Rankin's The Complaints is The Impossible Dead. These two books are the first in a new series written by the best-selling Scottish author which features a police detective named Malcolm Fox.
I previously reviewed The Complaints and enjoyed it enough that I put the next book, The Impossible Dead, on my Amazon wish list for Chrismuhkwanzakkuh.

Fox is in The Complaints division of the Edinburgh Police Department, which is basically the equivalent of what we would call the Internal Affairs division in the United States. In The Impossible Dead Fox has been assigned to the far-away backwater town of Fife to investigate whether a potentially crooked cop was able to convince his colleagues to lie for him in court by declaring him innocent. However, this being a Rankin story, the first mystery we encounter is only the beginning of the tale, and not necessarily the primary focus. In The Impossible Dead the story leads us to 1970s Scottish Nationalist bombings and tracking down the people that were involved then who are now at the upper echelons of Scottish society and politics.

In the end I did not find the second book as engaging as the first, though I'm not exactly sure why. I think its because Fox's colleagues (or sidekicks) have a more prominent role, but we really are not given sufficient background on these characters to treat them as people that we should invest emotional energy caring about. That's not true about Fox, by the way. Rankin does his usual excellent job of making his central character a nuanced, fascinating person who seems real. It's not clear yet if Fox will have the longevity and dedicated fan base of Rankin's previous creation of Inspector John Rebus who inhabited 19 books, but it does seem like Detective Inspector Malcolm Fox will be around and investigating malfeasance by cops (and criminals) in Scotland for quite a few books to come.

Author: Ian Rankin
Length: 400 pages.
Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books.
Published: November 21, 2011.

OVERALL GRADE: A/A- (3.75/4.0).


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