The Impossible Dead By Ian Rankin

This is the next book in the life of Malcolm Fox – he of the office of the Complaints or Internal Affairs that seeks to keep the police force’s noses clean. Fox and his team are called out to investigate allegations against a copper who had been prosecuted for taking favours from girls instead of nicking them (booking them). When they actually arrive the accused, Paul Carter, has already been found guilty and was awaiting discipline. Carter’s own uncle had led the charge against his own nephew. This held a lot of water as his uncle had once been in the force and now runs a reputable security firm. Nobody likes to see the Complaints department show up and this case is no different. Fox and his team are given the run around pretty much throughout the story but only when the uncle turns up dead, by a weapon that presumably doesn’t exist, do they begin to make any headway.

Malcolm now has his teeth stuck in to a case that takes him back to the early and mid-80s. This was a time of student protests, letters bombs and maybe even some chemical warfare – all in the name of social justice. The problems arise when names from back then can no longer be found. It seems some of these characters have just disappeared. As Fox is being warned off by some he is encouraged by others and even one who tries to hire him privately to figure out what has been going on.

While the case is progressing, Malcolm’s father, who is in a nursing home, has taken a turn for the worse as well. Malcolm’s sister is putting a lot of pressure on him to make regular visits to their father and take special note of his mental condition. I believe this is done in a relatively realistic way as a lot of us have to face decisions about our parents while maintaining jobs that take up a lot of time and energy. This causes guilt and maybe even some shame on Fox’s part but in talking with his father he finds out about another character who was maybe involved in the case he is working on.

Yet again Rankin writes a story with many tangents. I like the way he writes and one gets easily drawn in to Fox and his cronies as well as the underbelly of society in Edinburgh and surrounding towns. It is any wonder there are Rebus/Rankin tours around the city. Now they will have to include Fox’s hangouts along the way. Can’t wait for the next Rankin as that includes Rebus with Fox in what can only be a complaint case against the former police man.

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