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The Complaints [Hardcover]

Ian Rankin
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (237 customer reviews)
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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

Book Description

THE COMPLAINTS is the searing new major post-Rebus novel from Ian Rankin, an inquiry into personal morality, private vice, friendship, and the state of the nation.

About the Author

Ian Rankin's first Rebus novel was published in 1987, and the Rebus books are now translated into thirty-six languages and are bestsellers on several continents. Ian is the recipient of four CWA DAGGER AWARDS and in 2004, won America's celebrated EDGAR AWARD. He is also the recipient of honorary degrees from the universities of Abertay, St Andrews, Hull and Edinburgh and also received the OBE for services to literature, opting to receive the prize in his home city of Edinburgh, where he lives with his partner and two sons.
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