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The Complaints Hardcover – 3 Sep 2009

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Orion; First Edition edition (3 Sept. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752889516
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752889511
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 3.6 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (283 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 264,378 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in the Kingdom of Fife in 1960, Ian Rankin graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1982, and then spent three years writing novels when he was supposed to be working towards a PhD in Scottish Literature. His first Rebus novel was published in 1987, and the Rebus books are now translated into thirty-six languages and are bestsellers worldwide.

Ian Rankin has been elected a Hawthornden Fellow, and is also a past winner of the Chandler-Fulbright Award. He is the recipient of four Crime Writers' Association Dagger Awards including the prestigious Diamond Dagger in 2005. In 2004, Ian won America's celebrated Edgar Award for Resurrection Men. He has also been shortlisted for the Anthony Award in the USA, won Denmark's Palle Rosenkrantz Prize, the French Grand Prix du Roman Noir and the Deutscher Krimipreis. Ian Rankin is also the recipient of honorary degrees from the universities of Abertay, St Andrews, Edinburgh, Hull, the Open University and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

A contributor to BBC2's Newsnight Review, he also presented his own TV series, Ian Rankin's Evil Thoughts. Rankin is a number one bestseller in the UK and has received the OBE for services to literature, opting to receive the prize in his home city of Edinburgh, where he lives with his wife and two sons.

Here are the Inspector Rebus stories in series order:

Knots and Crosses
Hide and Seek
Tooth and Nail
Strip Jack
The Black Book
Mortal Causes
Let it Bleed
Black and Blue
The Hanging Garden
Dead Souls
Set in Darkness
The Falls
Resurrection Men
A Question of Blood
Fleshmarket Close
The Naming of the Dead
Exit Music
Standing In Another Man's Grave
Saints of the Shadow Bible

Short stories:
A Good Hanging - 12 Inspector Rebus mysteries
Beggars Banquet (non-Rebus short stories)
The Beat Goes On

Here are the Jack Harvey novels in series order:

Witch Hunt
Bleeding Hearts
Blood Hunt

Here are the Malcolm Fox novels in series order:

The Complaints
The Impossible Dead

Product Description

Amazon Review

It must be a double-edged sword to be Ian Rankin. Of course it's comforting to be Britain's best-selling male crime writer -- and to have created one of the most iconic characters in detective fiction in the irascible (and indomitable) D. I. Jack Rebus. But Rankin -- a writer who has clearly never been content to simply repeat himself -- had made it clear that there would be a finite number of Rebus books (the character, after all, was ageing in real time as Rankin had always planned that he should do). And with Exit Music he wrote finis to the career of his tough Glaswegian cop. But Rankin had made a rod for his own back: a less high-profile writer might get away with a change of pace which didn't quite come off -- not so Ian Rankin. And fortunately, the standalone heist novel which was the first post-Rebus book, Doors Open, was a winner and proved categorically that there was life after Rebus.

With The Complaints, we have the first novel by Ian Rankin featuring a new protagonist, another Edinburgh copper, Malcolm Fox. But Fox is quite a different character to his predecessor, although both men are imposing physically. For a start, Fox doesn't drink and is initially less confrontational than the bolshie Rebus. But where the latter’s taste in music ran (like the author’s) to rock music -- Rankin fans know about the Rebus titles echoing those of the Rolling Stones -- Fox is more inclined to listen to serious music. The city, however, is the same, and although some may regret that the massively talented Rankin has not moved into new territory along with his new copper, there's no denying that the author is the ultimate modern chronicler of Edinburgh, with a gift for pungent evocation worthy of his great Scottish literary predecessors. And it's a relief to report that The Complaints augurs very well for any further books featuring Malcolm Fox.

Fox is part of the unpopular Complaints & Conduct department of the police force (better known as ‘The Complaints’) -- and the reason for that unpopularity is clear to see: this is the department designed to root out corruption in the force and investigate suspect officers. The current target for Fox is policeman Glenn Heaton of the CID, who has often sailed close to the edge; now there appears to be material for a case against him. But at the same time, another cop, Jamie Breck, is suspected of being part of a ring indulging in child abuse. Fox is in for some jawdropping surprises regarding his colleague, and the shifting relationship between the two men is at the core of this finely honed narrative (along with Fox's treatment of his ailing father -- something else which differentiates this book from its predecessors).

There will, of course, be Rebus fans who would have been happy for Rankin to go on creating new problem for his awkward copper, but most admirers of the author will be happy with this striking change of pace -- and will be hungry for further outings for Malcolm Fox and the Complaints unit. --Barry Forshaw


Like all good crime novels, it takes you to places that you did not know existed - and, even if you did, would not wish to visit. Fox, brave and kind beneath his world-weary exterior, makes for an excellent guide. Rankin's legion of fans will have no grounds for complaints (Mark Sanderson EVENING STANDARD)

Getting to know this man [Fox], an intriguing mix of apathy and action, is almost like a courtship - each new situation reveals something that makes the reader want to know yet more (Rebecca Armstrong THE INDEPENDENT)

Rankin delivers, without the help of Rebus, an excellent cop novel full of action, good dialogue, well-crafted characters and an authentic backdrop (Marcel Berlins THE TIMES)

Rankin's touch for literary elements outwith genre expectations continues to be excellent. Even a brief paragraph about Fox's childhood contains as much nostagic fizz as a bubble of Irn Bru caught in a spluttering kid's nostril (Alan Morrison SUNDAY HERALD GLASGOW)

Rankin's trademark pace and descriptive eye are as sharp as ever, while the post-banking collapse setting, full of worried property developers and dodgy money men, gives the book a strong contemporary feel. It's a gripping police thriller (Aaron Lavery METRO)

It may be heresy to say so, but I was never very excited by Inspector Rebus. I am much more interested in Rankin's new addition to the list of Edinburgh policemen-heroes...An interesting insight into human behaviour, not to mention a welcome tour of both the Edinburgh that visitors see and the parts they aren't shown (Jessica Mann LITERARY REVIEW)

Rankin explores both public and private morality in this well-plotted story (Carla McKay DAILY MAIL)

The Complaints conclusively demonstrates that its author has still got it, and can put together an ample, satisfyingly complex detective novel without a Rolling Stones-loving, ex-SAS sleuth at its centre (John Dugdale SUNDAY TIMES)

The Complaints is very, very good indeeed and will be greedily devoured by anyone suffering from Rebus-withdrawal symptoms...I will be dismayed if this turns out to be a one-off, as the ensemble cast and the police procedural set-up, not to mention the Rankin/Edinburgh synergy and his eagle-eyed observation, simply cry out for a series (Mike Ripley SHOTS)

The action that follows writhes and twists ilke a bucketful of worms and Rankin handles them with his customary aplomb (David Connett SUNDAY EXPRESS)

On the evidence of The Complaints it looks as if Fox will be just as sure-footed a guide to the city as his grizzled predecessor (Barry Forshaw DAILY EXPRESS)

Reliably readable as ever, Ranin truly rocks (Paul Blezzard THE LADY)

This is an archetypal Rankin novel - a meaty mystery as well as a forensic investigation of how the consciences of ordinary, decent people react to extreme stress (Mat Coward MORNING STAR)

As is usually the case with Rankin, the plot is more layered than a tiramisu and here offers a depth that incorpoates teh impact of the credit crunch and the subsequent collapse of property values in Scotland (Declan Burke IRISH TIMES)

Rankin is a master at what, for me, is one of the important aspects of a crime novel: the integration of setting, plot, characters and a theme which, for Rankin, is the moral dimension never far from his writing. Here it is unambiguously stated on the cover of The Complaints: wh decides right from wrong? (PD James THE GUARDIAN)

Rankin displays his customary droll humour and uses Edinburgh as a character in its own right: it's a city in gridlock, thanks to the owrk installing a new tram system, with new housing projects blighted by the credit crunch (Peter Gutteridge THE OBSERVER)

By half way through - if I even stopped to think - my only quibble would be whether this is as good as Rebus at his best or whether it's the best he's ever written. It's a close call but I think it's the best (THE BOOK BAG)

As much a state-of-Scotland novel as a conventional thriller (John Williams MAIL ON SUNDAY)

Gordon Brown, who knows a thing or two about what it's like to live up to the memory of a charismatic predecessor, ought to give Fox his endorsement straight away (Jake Kerridge DAILY TELEGRAPH)

The precisely rendered police procedure is impressive, but it is what lies beneath - the heartbeat of Midlothian, the quiet cunning of Malcolm Fox - that resonates. Rankin's strength resides in a kind of fingertip search of the urban scene, exposing the underbelly of a city scarred by violence (Willy Maley TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT)

It's a must for Rankin fans and new reader alike (SHORTLIST)

a substantial and satisfying novel with the skillfully orchestrated narrative that Rankin does so well (Andrew Taylor THE SPECTATOR)

Rankin's social and political eye is as acute as ever (Sharon Wheeler reviewing the

This book is a terrific read, a true page turner - Read, savour and enjoy! (JOURNAL OF THE LAW SOCIETY OF SCOTLAND)

The Complaints is very, very good indeed and will be greedily devoured by anyone suffering Rebus-withdrawal symptoms. I will be horrified (though not necessarily surprised) if it isn't in the running for next year's Gold Dagger and dismayed if it turns out to be a one-off, as the ensemble cast and the police procedural set up, not to mention the Rankin/Edinburgh synergy and his eagle-eyed observations, simply cry out for a series (DEADLY PLEASURES)

A proper page-turner that continues Rankin's chronicling of his home city , this time in the wake of RBS's shaky year, it will keep fans happy - and rightly so (Alex Heminsley INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY)

The story that unravels is exciting, sinister and extremely complicated. The Complaints has the quality of a good mystery in that you believe yourself to be solving it, when in fact the truth lies in the other direction (THE LADY)

It goes without saying that we all miss Rebus, but it's time to move on. Though it is unclear whether THE COMPLAINTS is intended as the first in a new series, the ending leaves that possibility open and I would be very happy to see Malcolm Fox return very soon (Yvonne Klein

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

127 of 135 people found the following review helpful By H. meiehofer VINE VOICE on 6 Sept. 2009
Format: Hardcover
The Complaints marks a welcome return to the police procedural for Ian Rankin. There is an unusual angle here. Whilst police procedurals are relatively common, few have focused on those who investigate their fellow officers (The BBC series "Between The Lines" being the only exception which comes to mind). Such officers are generally dismissed by their fellows as "rats" and Rankin's decision to make one of them his central character is certainly a bold one.

It is a gamble which appears to have paid off. Malcolm Fox is an engages the reader's sympathy. Like most such central characters he has his problems, but at least they are not the usual clichés. Instead it is about his guilt about not visiting his father often enough and his boredom with being teetotal in the midst of a drinking culture; problems with which we can sympathise, and identify, even if we don't suffer from them ourselves.

Rebus was always going to be a hard act to follow, particularly as the previous series had been so successful over such a long period of time and had built up a very large fan base. It appears that after the slight dip in form of "Doors Open" Rankin has struck gold with this new central character.

The story is convoluted, but believable. The twists and turns in the plot ratchet up the paranoia level well and the reader is left astonished by the predicaments Fox faces because of the evil which surrounds him.

As always one of the most important "characters" is Edinburgh itself. Rankin uses the contrast between the ancient grimy parts of the city and the new developments to make the place seem like a living, breathing being which itself adds to the plot.

The Complaints introduces us to a new series using all of Ian Rankin's strengths and Malcolm Fox looks set to provide many years of entertainment for crime fans.
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49 of 53 people found the following review helpful By G. J. Oxley on 9 Sept. 2009
Format: Hardcover
A dilemma: Ian Rankin, Val McDermid and Iain Banks - three outstanding Scottish novelists all with a new novel out on the same day - which do I read first? Well, I bought all three before finally opting for the Rankin. All I can say is I hope Val's and Banksy's new works are of the same standard as `The Complaints'.

It's good to see Ian back with a `serious' novel set (mostly) in Edinburgh after last year's fairly lightweight offering `Doors Open'. Many fans hated this book, others LOVED it. I found it a decent read myself, but it hardly had the gravitas of the Rebus books. It wasn't meant to.

`The Complaints' however is a different kettle of fish.

Set in February 2009 in a credit crunch-hit Edinburgh of plummeting land and property prices, it features Malcolm `Foxy' Fox who heads up a team working for the Complaints Conduct Department. They're known as `the Dark Side' and investigate other policemen suspected of `dirty' deeds and actions. Fox is asked to investigate Jamie Breck, a fellow officer whose credit card details have been registered on a paedophile website. But is everything as it seems? Simultaneously, his sister's boyfriend is found murdered, and Fox is told he's got no part in the investigation...

Fox forms an alliance of sorts with Breck and is soon plunged into events where he doesn't know who he can and cannot trust.

In tackling topical issues, Rankin weaves a labyrinthine plot, that twists and turns like a twisty, turny thing. He resolves everything brilliantly and I for one didn't see more than half of what was coming.

Malcolm Fox, it has to be said, initially resembles John Rebus, but only superficially: he's a middle-aged man, living on his own, without a woman.
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78 of 85 people found the following review helpful By Michael Watson TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 3 Sept. 2009
Format: Hardcover
Rebus was always going to be a hard act to follow and if Ken Stott had played him from the beginning in the TV series, he'd have been even harder to follow. So, after a brief interlude with `Doors Open' Rankin has come up with another Edinburgh-based cop, Inspector Malcolm Fox.

He's middle-aged, divorced, stroppy - or should that be just grumpy - liked a glass or two but now has to stick to tomato juice and is as determined to solve the crime. So what's new? Well, the music is and, initially, he doesn't have a sidekick he can kick to the side.

Working for the unit which polices the police - The Complaints of the title - this first story brings into play a current hot topic - paedophilia; regrettably bringing into focus a CID officer suspected of being involved in an online group. Circumstances change as this character teams up with Fox and, as the bodies seem to pile up yet again, Rankin's great ability to entertain us with the current financial property mess coupled with the local atmosphere, local policing, local characters and, dare I say, almost another Rebus, the book is a great start to a new series - presumably. I believe I read somewhere that Rankin does not rule out Fox and Rebus appearing in a future story - after all, there must a crime or two in which the previous hero was involved which may well need a further police audit?

I loved the Rebus character and it's hard to brush this aside and take on Fox's persona. But the book works and I'll look forward to the next. Since Fox is in his forties, there are a few years ahead of us. Hopefully, this Fox will become as popular as the glacier mint of the same name.
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