Thursday, 28 February 2013



Nobody likes The Complaints - they're the cops who investigate other cops. Complaints and Conduct Department, to give them their full title, but known colloquially as 'the Dark Side', or simply 'The Complaints'. Malcolm Fox works for The Complaints. He's just had a result, and should be feeling good about himself. But he's middle-aged, sour and unwell. He also has a father in a care home and a sister who persists in an abusive relationship.

In the midst of an aggressive Edinburgh winter, the reluctant Fox is given a new task. There's a cop called Jamie Breck, and he's dirty. Problem is, no one can prove it. But as Fox takes on the job, he learns that there's more to Breck than anyone thinks. This knowledge will prove dangerous, especially when murder intervenes.

Confession time here, I’ve been a devotee of crime fiction for 20-odd years and shock-horror in all that time I have only ever read one book by Ian Rankin! After this venture north of the border that is something I’ll have to address.

The Complaints is the first in what is hopefully going to be another long running series from the author. There’s definitely a second outing for the team, as the back of my edition offers the first chapter in this follow-up, The Impossible Dead. Happily I have a copy of this somewhere at home that will be demanding some attention later on in the year.

I thought the pace was slightly slow in the first half of the book, as Rankin seemed intent on introducing Fox and the team to the reader- mainly Fox. We learn about his family, his problems with alcohol and his job as one of the peeping Toms, spying on his fellow cops. It picked up speed in the second half as all the strands of the investigation came together.

Enjoyable and entertaining with a satisfactory conclusion. Interesting characters throughout, though I was slightly less fond of Breck than Fox.

My wife read this late last year, and it’s good to know we’re on the same page, as she liked it too.

4 from 5

My copy was a bargain obtained from a local charity shop.

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