Select one of the keywords
The Impossible Dead    by Ian Rankin order for
Impossible Dead
by Ian Rankin
Order:  USA  Can
Reagan Arthur, 2011 (2011)

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Impossible Dead follows The Complaints as the second in Ian Rankin's new series starring Lothian and Borders internal affairs officer Malcolm Fox in Edinburgh, Scotland. Fox lives alone, eats microwaved frozen dinners, and doubts himself, wondering if he would have made the grade in criminal investigation as a 'real cop'. His father Mitch is in a nursing home and his sister Jude is unhappy, impoverished and perpetually angry.

As The Impossible Dead opens, Fox and two colleagues (Tony Kaye and Joe Naysmith) are in Kirkcaldy ('a coastal town in Fife'), encountering the usual lack of cooperation from fellow police officers as they investigate a possible cover-up of Detective Constable Paul Carter's offenses - he's been found guilty of turning a blind eye to drunkenness and drugs in exchange for sexual favors. The odd thing is that Paul's uncle Alan, himself an ex-policeman, is the one who turned him in.

When Fox interviews Alan Carter in his cottage, he notices a table strewn with papers that Carter calls 'A bit of historical research.' Fox is helped in his investigation by a married Complaints colleague, Evelyn Mills, with whom he had a brief fling years before, and who still seems interested. Then Alan Carter is murdered and his nephew accused of the crime. Fox wonders what the uncle had been researching and discovers it was the case of a charismatic, radical lawyer, Francis Vernal, an activist for Scottish nationalism who died in a car crash in the eighties.

Malcolm Fox does not have much in common with John Rebus. But when either gets a hint of a trail to follow, they pursue it relentlessly, wherever it takes them and no matter how much trouble it gets them into. Francis Vernal's trail leads to other accidental deaths and to high levels in policing and government. It draws Fox into the line of fire. He proves something to himself and, along the way improves his family situation.

I really like this character and the internal affairs focus of the series, and look forward to reading more as it develops. I also enjoy the author's social commentary as when he tells us through Fox: 'Fear was ever-present ... Right now, people were fearing for their jobs and pensions, fearing global warming and dwindling resources. If these problems were ever resolved, new worries would fill the vacuum.' Sadly, too true.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Mystery books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews