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The Impossible Dead Paperback – 24 May 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 379 customer reviews

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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 (379 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 93,266 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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)

This is the second outing for Rankin's Inspector Malcolm Fox, who has the seemingly impossible job of rooting out corrupt colleagues (Henry Sutton DAILY MIRROR)

Proving there's life - and murder - after gloomy Rebus, Rankin pops up with a new cop here, DI Fox (MAIL ON SUNDAY 'LIVE')

Criminally good (Fanny Blake WOMAN AND HOME)

The plot, pacing and characterisation are all handled with impeccable skill, while Rankin infuses his story with subtle social commentary into the bargain. Fans may still mourn Rebus, but Fox is a worthy replacement (BIG ISSUE)

No one writes dialogue that seethes with conflict as well as him (Mark Sanderson EVENING STANDARD)

This is Rankin, so it's only to be expected that the plotting should be tight, the dialogue quick-fire, the crimes disturbingly believable, taking place as they do in a world that is so thoroughly and obviously our own, today. What the creator of Rebus also gives us in Fox - initially in the inspector's first outing, The Complaints, and again here is another complex, driven policeman: difficult, largely miserable and lonely, but utterly real' (Alison Flood THE OBSERVER)

What is the most memorable here is the storyline about the deterioration of Fox's father, handled so sensitively as to make Henning Mankell's depiction of the decline of Wallander's father seem histrionic (Jake Kerridge FINANCIAL TIMES)

Fox remains a worthy successor to Rebus, retaining his outsider status and incorruptibility but operating in a much more modern context (Joan Smith SUNDAY TIMES)

Post-Rebus Rankin has lost none of his mastery of excitingly gripping storystelling (Marcel Berlins THE TIMES)

masterful thriller that will have you gripped to the very last page (CANDIS)

taut, compulsive and hugely satisfying, with plenty to say about the limits of memory and the dangers of historical idealism. If this is where Rankin is now, I'm not sure I'd want him to be anywhere else (John O'Connell GUARDIAN)

He offers an account of personal and political alienation, the tactics needed to contain terrorism, and the desirability or otherwise of deceit (Natasha Cooper TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT)

Could Ian Rankin ever follow his Rebus success? Happily for his fans, he proves he can (SUNDAY EXPRESS)

Last of all, envy stops me from saying more about Ian Rankin's new novel, than that it's impossibly good (Philip Kerr THE SCOTSMAN)

"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

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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