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The Complaints

1 rating: 4.0
A book by Ian Rankin

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 … see full wiki

Tags: Books
Author: Ian Rankin
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers
Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books
1 review about The Complaints

Good, But Not Exactly What I Was Expecting

  • Mar 26, 2011
Malcolm Fox had a thankless job working in the Complaints Department for the Scotland's Edinburg police. He investigated charges of misconduct and illegal activities against other on the force. Needless to say, not many officers appreciated his job and his list of enemies was far longer than his list of friends.

When asked to investigate young detective, Jamie Breck, it didn't take long for the case to take a sharp turn, leaving Fox scrambling for answers. Is it simply coincidence that Breck is assigned to investigate the murder of Vince Faulkner--the abusive partner of Fox's sister? What begins as straightforward murder mystery, The Complaints, soon transforms into a complex conspiracy leaving the reader with a lot of plot to unravel and digest.

I was so looking forward to this book. I loved the idea of getting a glimpse into a different aspect of police work. Not to mention, Rankin is a highly acclaimed, award-winning, well established author and this was the first of his books for me to read. Unfortunately, my brain's a little under powered and well, it soon became evident there was no way I was going to figure this story out without it being explained. Which is fine, but since I was rather confused for a significant portion of the book, in the end, the main question I could formulate was, is Breck a bad guy?

The Complaints starts out simple enough--Fox is to investigate Detective Breck to see if he's a pedophile. Breck is assigned the murder of Vince Faulkner, which creates a conflict of interest with Fox. To add to the internal struggle for Fox, Breck is very likeable and willing to provide information to Fox about his murder investigation. This part of the book was great. I followed it completely and thought it was well written. However, the book drops the complaint side of the story, which was disappointing, since that was what originally grabbed my interest. The information provided, regarding the openness of the complaint investigative process and surprising privacy violations were interesting and I would have loved for the story to stay with this aspect.

I would have been equally pleased if the story followed the murder investigation and the conflicting emotions and situations Fox was placed in. Most of the events do stem from the murder, but wow...did it ever explode. One minute it's a single murder in Edinburg and the next it's a conspiracy involving real estate, thugs, corrupt politicians, and more. While these various plot lines are being developed, the book felt slow, but that might have been because I didn't fully understand the unfolding events. By the time it ended, I sort of got it, but still not completely.

For people with a higher capacity for puzzle solving than me, this book is probably excellent. I enjoyed the style and most of the characters, though at times I thought some were a bit stereotyped, but overall they worked for the story. I would love to see another book written about the Complaints Department, which focused on their job, the inner working of the system, as well as their relationship to the rest of the police force. While The Complaints wasn't what I was hoping for, I'm not at all ready to give up on Rankin. I caught enough of a glimpse of his story telling to know I'm more than willing to read his next one.

Review title provided courtesy of Little, Brown and Company

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