Customer Review

6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "STARTED STRAIGHTFORWARDLY. THEN IT GOT COMPLICATED", 16 Oct. 2011
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This review is from: The Impossible Dead (Hardcover)
Ian Rankin's "The Impossible Dead" is a satisfying read but falls one notch short of unputdownble. Inspector Fox is not as compelling a character as Rebus (Rankin's main series detective) and the writing is more labored than in his best work.

This is the second novel to feature Inspector Malcolm Fox of the Complaints and Conduct Division - the internal affairs function in Scotland's police recently relabeled as "Professional Standards." Fox and his two sidekicks are sent to investigate a relatively routine case in Kirkcaldy. As their investigation proceeds, Fox unearths new facts about the apparent suicide of a prominent separatist in the eighties (apparently this is based on a real life case) and begins to tease out connections to the current Great and Good. Two further suspicious deaths follow. The Complaints team tangles with not only the Kirkcaldy officers under their investigation, but also a team from a neighboring force and Special Branch. Various developments take place, or fail to take place, in Fox's private life.

"The Impossible Dead" demonstrates all Rankin's trademark strengths: deep characterization, even of walk-on figures, brooding atmosphere, crackling dialogue, social and political commentary and so on. Yet there is a sense of greater perspiration than inspiration driving the work. The plot is dense and complicated, too slow to gather pace; there are too many fantastic leaps (three faux suicides? A former undercover operator marrying a former terrorist without noticing?); several genre clichés such as Fox's family dilemma and the intervention of a government minister and Special Branch. Fox himself is well developed but not very interesting and the chemistry between him and his team is tepid.

Still very readable, but some warning signs. I suspect that this series does not have much future.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 23 Oct 2011 11:30:27 BDT
Thoughtful, measured and bang on review. Thank you.
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