Nobody likes The Complaints -- they're the cops who investigate other cops. It's a department known within the force as The Dark Side, and it's where Malcolm Fox works. He's a serious man with a father in a nursing home and a sister who persists in an abusive relationship, frustrating problems about which he cannot seem to do anything.
Then the reluctant Fox is given a new case. There's a cop named Jamie Breck, and he's dirty. The problem is, no one can prove it. As Fox takes on the job, he learns that there's more to Breck than anyone thinks -- dangerous knowledge, especially when a vicious murder takes place far too close to home.
In The Complaints, Rankin proves again why he is one of the world's most beloved and bestselling crime writers, mixing unstoppable pacing with the deeper question of who decides right from wrong.
Fans of Rankin's Det. Insp. John Rebus will be disappointed by this so-so police procedural, his second stand-alone since Rebus "retired" (after Doors Open). Malcolm Fox call him Rebus "Lite" (he doesn't drink, he broods less, and he has none of Rebus's wit) works for the Scottish equivalent of Internal Affairs, "Complaints and Conduct" (aka "the Complaints"), which investigates corrupt cops. Fox looks into the case of Det. Sgt. Jamie Breck, who may be trading in child pornography over the Internet. Meanwhile, when Vince Faulkner, Fox's sister's lover and abuser, turns up dead, Fox becomes a murder suspect. A torturously complicated plot follows involving the suspicious suicide of a failing property developer, large-scale money laundering, and crookedness at every level of Scottish society, but nothing's really at stake. As always with Rankin, Scotland itself is a main character "the whole of Scotland's in meltdown," says Fox and that may be this tepid novel's main attraction. 10-city author tour.
I loved Rankin's Inspector Rebus books, and was not sure at first about Malcolm Fox ... but after reading the great reviews of the second book in this new series, I plunged in and am very glad I did. A very smart, unassuming character that takes you by surprise - very worth the investment of your time to get to know him! I'm already looking forward to the next book, and hope there will be many more.