Book Review: Ian Rankin’s The Complaints

Posted June 20, 2011 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Ian Rankin’s The Complaints

The Complaints


Ian Rankin

detective mystery that was published by Orion Books on 2009 and has 471 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Exit Music, Impossible Dead, Standing in Another Man's Grave, A Good Hanging, Saints of the Shadow Bible, Even Dogs in the Wild, Rather Be the Devil

First in the Inspector Malcolm Fox detective series, a spin-off from his Detective Inspector Rebus series set in Edinburgh, Scotland.

My Take

It was odd reading a story about policemen in Edinburgh. I kept expecting Inspector Rebus and Siobhan to show up. It was like going home for a family reunion and none of the family showed up.

It did take me a bit to take get into it…and I suspect this is why. But once I did, oh lordy, it was excellent. Rankin had me on the edge of my chair dying to know how Fox and Breck get out of the mess they’ve gotten themselves into. All with the best of intentions of course. I couldn’t help but wonder if McEwan had maneuvered the two of them together for precisely the reasons why they uncovered the entire mess. I think if the bent coppers had left it alone, they’d’a been safer.

It’s Vince’s murder where it feels a bit manufactured. Fox is such a law-abiding man and he hated Vince, yet he insists on poking his nose into an investigation revolving around his sister where it is reasonable to consider him a possible suspect. Yet it does provide each man the opportunity to understand the other giving them that mutual support they’ll need when they both end up suspended.

Support they’ll need as they start to uncover the depth of the anger against them.

There’s a bit of the Hitler-esque in this…”just doing what I’m told”.

The Story

The Complaints opens with Malcolm Fox closing a case against a dirty cop, Glen Heaton, followed by a visit to Child Protection (CEOP) where DS Inglis enlists his aid in investigating a cop, Jamie Breck, accused of pedophilia.

Then the unexpected hits — Vince, Jude’s boyfriend, is found murdered and DS Breck is in charge giving Fox the opportunity to get to know his target. And Breck to learn more about his suspect.

The Characters

Malcolm Fox comes across as a steady, patient cop dedicated to exposing corruption. And, as Breck puts it, not easily roused to action. Divorced, he lives a very quiet life and takes care of the bills for his dad’s nursing home and worries about the beatings his sister’s boyfriend gives her.

Jamie Breck is a detective sergeant fascinated by role-playing games and on the fast track to becoming something more.

Jude Fox is Malcolm’s sister and the murder of her boyfriend is one of the catalysts for Malcolm rousing to action.

Joe Naysmith and Tony Kaye are colleagues of Fox’s with Bob McEwan their boss.

Annie Inglis is a detective sergeant in CEOP, a division which investigates pedophiles. Attractive, interesting, Fox is interested until he discovers the truth about Annie.

The Cover and Title

At first I thought the cover with our looking up at the floating drowned man was rather obscure as the incident it represents was such a minute part. I came to realize that it was really a metaphor for the hidden depths of the corruption within, floating about in its sea of lawfulness.

The title was certainly appropriate. The entire story circled around Malcolm Fox, a cop who had just successfully wrapped up a case of a bent copper, Heaton. A cop with friends in some very low places. The Complaints being the Scottish version of our Internal Affairs.