Sunday, 5 January 2014
The Complaints - Ian Rankin
This is the first of Rankin's two novels (to date) about Malcolm Fox and the Edinburgh police complaints unit. Typically, I read the other one, The Impossible Dead, first. I enjoyed that greatly but consider this one better.
I read Rankin when he first came out. I read the first three Rebus novels, then gave up because they weren't up to scratch. I found the TV dramatisations clichéd and avoided subsequent Rebus novels like a bad cold. I should probably reconsider and try revisiting the series halfway through - something like Dead Souls or The Falls - because I always enjoyed his stand-alone Jack Harvey thrillers and consider the Complaints novels to be of superior quality.
Rankin is still fond of a cliché - the Complaints quickly becoming the subject of complaints - but they are virtually impossible to avoid in genre fiction. It's what you do with them that counts. And here it's the starting point for a complex, multi-layered conspiracy set against the collapse of the banks in 2008-9 which, thanks to the Royal Bank of Scotland, was an extreme blow to Scottish pride and the Scottish economy. Current events are central to the story and totally engrained in the action and for me, that sets this book head-and-shoulders above its competitors.
A great way to start my reading year.