Wednesday, 4 September 2013

The Impossible Dead - Ian Rankin


I never quite got Rankin.  Although I loved his Jack Harvey thrillers, the early Rebus bored me, as did all his TV incarnations, and I therefore missed the point when the series went serious.  I'll have to do some catching up, clearly.  This, however, is the second of Rankin's successor series to Rebus (albeit Rebus is now back), featuring Malcolm Fox and his colleagues from Complaints.

It took a while to draw me in - one of the problems I always had with Rankin is that he doesn't buttonhole you but expects you to stick with it.  I did stick with it and was soon full-body immersed.  It's a cracking story with its roots in a forgotten period, the Tartan terror of the 1980s.  Nowadays we have to make up or bogeymen; back then we bred our own and Rankin is clearly intrigued by the question, Where Are They Now?

Fox is a decent character, no larded-on vices, no overwrought love life.  He has a family, a sister and a father, and they are beautifully drawn, too.  Rankin wisely resists the temptation to let his narrative stray outside of Fox's knowledge.  He is in every scene - even when he isn't physically there, we experience what happened through Fox being told.

Overall, a very impressive, highly-skilled piece of work.  I will certainly lay hands on The Complaints itself, and may well try the reborn Rebus.  Highly recommended.

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