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The Impossible Dead Paperback – 24 May 2012

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Frequently Bought Together

The Impossible Dead + The Complaints + Saints of the Shadow Bible (Inspector Rebus 19)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (24 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1409136299
  • ISBN-13: 978-1409136293
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (351 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 45,478 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


"Fox works for me. Divorced and in his mid-40s, he's quieter than Rebus and warier of confrontation, but no less complex... So doubters be damned: this novel is taut, compulsive and hugely satisfying" (John O'Connell GUARDIAN)

"An addictive, brilliantly written page-turner" (PETERBOROUGH EVENING TELEGRAPH)

"A cracking thriller starring Ian Rankin's new hero Malcolm Fox" (Shari Low DAILY RECORD)

Book Description

Malcolm Fox returns in the stunning second novel in Ian Rankin's series...

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

170 of 179 people found the following review helpful By FictionFan TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 15 Oct. 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
I didn't think that Ian Rankin would ever be able to create another character who could compete with Rebus. I was wrong.

The first book in his new series, The Complaints, was good but this second one is even better. As members of the Professional Standards team, Inspector Malcolm Fox and his team are in Fife, looking into possible misconduct in the force there. When an ex-copper is found dead, Fox becomes aware that he had been looking into an old case - the death of a political activist which at the time had been classed as a suicide. Now Fox and his team have two cases on their hands.

One of the things I like most about Rankin is the way he sets his books firmly in the real world. With references to actual events and people, his plots become entirely convincing. He tells modern Scotland like it is - neither all good nor all bad. The short period in the eighties when Scottish nationalism turned briefly into terrorism is used for the main strand of the book. Rankin shows the contrast of those days, when fervent nationalists felt the democratic process held no hope for them, to the Scotland of today, with its devolved government, more confident and comfortable in its skin, with nationalism a question to be debated rather than won by force.

Malcolm Fox is turning into just as interesting a character as Rebus, if less of a maverick. Working in the Complaints, he has to face the obstruction and sometimes contempt of fellow officers, but he believes in what he's doing and wants to do it well.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Midnight on 23 Oct. 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Readers were first introduced to DI Malcolm Fox in a previous Rebus story (The Complaints, 2009).

Ian Rankin has made a seamless transition over to this new protagonist and with the author's usual easy writing style has come up trumps with a well developed character that will no doubt enthrall readers in an exciting series of tales.

Malcolm Fox is an intriguing mix of apathy and action; he is a solid character, single, drives a Volvo & doesn't drink alcohol any more, just sticking to water or Appletiser.

These stories see police procedurals from a different perspective - Rebus often broke the rules whereas Fox enforces them. He heads up a team in the Professional Standards Unit, more commonly known as 'The Complaints' of Lothian and Borders Police, the cops who investigate other cops. His cohorts in this story are DS Tony Kaye and DC Joe Naysmith.

Fox is quoted as stating: 'Maybe I want to make sure the {police} force is on the side of the angels.' For Malcolm Fox, the appeal of the Complaints was its focus on rules broken rather than bones, on cops who crossed the line but were not violent men.

Readers are taken on a journey through Edinburgh, Stirling, St Andrews and Fife - even to the State Mental Hospital at Carstairs in Lanark - as Fox and his team is asked to investigate three colleagues from the neighbouring Fife constabulary.

In the background, Fox struggles with the dilemma of balancing his work duties alongside appeasing his sister's frustration at the time and resources needed to care for their elderly father's illness.
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49 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Bluebell TOP 500 REVIEWER on 31 Oct. 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've enjoyed dozens of Ian Rankin's books and felt a pang when the Rebus series finished. However, the arrival of his new detective, Malcolm Fox, in The Complaints filled the gap and heralded a fine new series. To my disappointment, this second book in the new series, is not as good as the first. It is very slow to get going: there are pages and pages of chit-chat between Fox and his two side-kicks, Kaye and Naysmith, with descriptions of journeys around Fife, the scenery as they drive to and from Edinburgh and their problems over police inter-departmental friction. Yet, with all this descriptive stuff I never really get a picture in my mind of Fox who is two-dimensional, in contrast to Rebus, who is so clearly pictured in my mind by the books that when Ken Stott appeared in the TV series he was perfect. In the first book in the new series I welcomed the fact that Fox wasn't the usual hard-drinking, smoking stereotype of most detective series, but I don't feel his character has been developed enough for the reader to identify with him in his quests for truth.

Only when one gets well into the book does the action begin and then it goes off into all sorts of tangents: terrorism, police corruption, MI5, under-cover police activity, murder, suicide plus diversions into Fox's stormy relationship with his sister and worries over his father's deteriorating health. Having been a bit bored by the first half of the book I became confused over the plethora of story-lines in the latter part of the novel.
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