The Complaints - Ian Rankin

AFTER his first post-Rebus book, dealing with art theft from the thieves viewpoint, Ian Rankin has returned to the police for his second. At first glance there are a lot of similarities between his new hero and the old. Malcolm Fox is another grumpy, mid

AFTER his first post-Rebus book, dealing with art theft from the thieves' viewpoint, Ian Rankin has returned to the police for his second.

At first glance there are a lot of similarities between his new hero and the old.

Malcolm Fox is another grumpy, middle-aged, divorced inspector living alone in Edinburgh. He, too, spends a lot of time in pubs, although he has sworn off the demon booze and now confines himself to tomato juice.

While Rebus had a daughter, Fox has a father in a care home and a sister with a drink problem and an abusive partner.

But while Rebus spent most of his cases sailing close to the wind, bending and often breaking, the rules, Fox is one who would have investigated him. He works for the complaints and conduct department, going after the corrupt officers, and as we know from plenty of TV dramas, officers who choose that line of work are very unpopular with the ordinary Bill.

Having just finished an inquiry, which resulted in an officer being suspended, Fox is asking to look at Sgt Jamie Breck, a suspected paedophile. The problem is, Fox's brother-in-law has been found battered to death, Breck is investigating the murder and Fox is a key suspect.

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Soon, the man who spends his life digging for dirt on fellow police, finds himself suspended and under investigation. So, who is setting him up? And could Breck be the friend he needs, or is he really a sick pervert?

The Complaints (�18.99, Orion) is exactly what we expect from Rankin - clever plot, snappy dialogue and social commentary - but I was a little disappointed he hasn't made more of a departure from the Rebus formula. The exciting thing about Doors Open was that it was a big change in style and this was a chance to continue in that vein. Rankin is a good enough writer to widen his remit.

- LINDSAY JONES

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