Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Impossible Dead” as Want to Read:
The Impossible Dead
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Impossible Dead (Malcolm Fox #2)

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  6,514 Ratings  ·  574 Reviews

Malcolm Fox returns in the stunning second novel in Ian Rankin's series...

Malcolm Fox and his team are back, investigating whether fellow cops covered up for Detective Paul Carter. Carter has been found guilty of misconduct, but what should be a simple job is soon complicated by a brutal murder and a weapon that should not even exist.

A trail of revelations leads Fox back

Kindle Edition, 372 pages
Published by Orion Books (first published 2011)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Dec 13, 2011 Alex rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
It's a thoroughly predictable line, but a wholly accurate one: Malcolm Fox is not John Rebus. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but the fact is that Fox remains, after two books, a not overly compelling character. In this book his status as an investigator of internal police corruption is repeatedly called into question by any attentive reader due to the simple fact that he frequently ignores orders and acts well outside the bounds of his pay scale.

Thing is he doesn't even break the rules in
Amanda Patterson
Jan 31, 2012 Amanda Patterson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a dedicated Ian Rankin fan. In the past some may have called me a groupie.
Anyway… Rankin is a master of the craft of crime fiction writing. He understands how to create detectives and criminals. He knows how to make settings come alive and become characters in his novels.
Fox, Rankin's new protagonist, is divorced, in his 40s, and he's quieter than Rebus. He doesn't drink alcohol; he enjoys Appletiser. He's objective, and he’s a gentleman. He works for 'The Complaints' aka The Internal Affai
Mark Stevens
Jun 13, 2012 Mark Stevens rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“The Impossible Dead” is a solid, beefy mystery with Scottish atmosphere and slow-burn tension in ample supply. Ian Rankin makes writing these stories together look so easy. He's such a genuine, non-flashy storyteller. The effect is like some kind of trick. You are up and running alongside Matthew Fox and have as much desire as he does to figure out what the hell is going on. Rankin trusts his readers, holds nothing back.

And you care about the very sticky situation Matthew Fox finds himself in—
Trev Twinem
Dec 07, 2016 Trev Twinem rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ian Rankin to me will always be synonymous with John Rebus but Rebus, although still fighting crime, is in retirement and so its good to meet a new hero in town DI Malcolm Fox. He's working in the complaints dept(internal affairs to you and me) and together with two comrades has been sent to the kingdom of Fife to investigate the strange case of Detective Paul Carter. Carter who has been found guilty of misconduct and it is feared that fellow officers have been complicit in a cover-up. The Comp ...more
Sep 07, 2012 Trish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This second in a series about the “Complaints” department of Scottish law enforcement is big. In the process of investigating a relatively straightforward sexual harassment claim against a sergeant and his colleagues, the person who brought the suit in the first place ends up dead. Investigating this new mystery uncovers the scent of corruption and death that extends back decades.

I listened to the audiobook narrated by the estimable Peter Forbes, who makes the Scottish accent understandable but
Jan 04, 2012 Larraine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When Ian Rankin retired his Inspector Rebus character, and published his first, Malcolm Fox of "The Complaints" novel, I wasn't sure that Fox would be a worthy successor. The first novel, The Complaints, introduces us to Malcolm Fox a detective whose unenviable job is to investigate wrongdoing by his fellow police officers. (Think of all of those police shows you've seen on television and "internal affairs.")

Fox and his team are sent to investigate laxity in a police department after one of the
Handwritten on inside: Rebecca Strong Xmas 2011

David Thompson


'He's not here,' the desk sergeant said.

'So where is he?'

'Out on a call.'

Fox stared hard at the man, knowing it wouldn't do any good. The sergeant was one of those old-timers who reckoned they'd seen it all anf faced most of it down. Fox glanced at the next name on his list.

I need to get this under my belt before embarking on Standing In Another Man's Grave where Rebus and Fox meet up *swoon*

Cracking storyline,
Olinda Bento
Jun 29, 2015 Olinda Bento rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2015
this book in the beginning it's a little "boring". it's like there's no action and everything it's a mess! but, as we continue reading, the books becomes more and more and more interesting and everythings starts to make sense. i recommend you this book, if you are into thriller books, i think you will enjoy this one. keep in mind that the beginning is a little messy, but believe me that in the end it will surprise you.
Ο Μάλκολμ Φοξ είναι το πρότυπο του επιθεωρητή ντετέκτιβ. Δεν έχει ατέλειες, (είναι προσηλωμένος, ευφυής και στοργικός καθώς φροντίζει τον άρρωστο πατέρα του, Μιτς και αποκαθιστά τις σχέσεις του με την αδελφή του, Τζούντι) αλλά κανείς δεν τον αντιμετωπίζει ως αστυνομικό γιατί δουλεύει στο Τμήμα Παραπόνων (Εσωτερικές Υποθέσεις) και δουλειά του είναι να ερευνά καταγγελίες ή υποψίες για την παραβατική συμπεριφορά των συναδέλφων του.

Καταφθάνει στο Φάιφ με την ομάδα του, τον Τόνι Κέι και τον Τζόι Νέι
Nov 30, 2011 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
THE IMPOSSIBLE DEAD. (2011). Ian Rankin. ****.
This is the second novel in Rankin’s new series featuring the policemen who represented the “Complaints” group within Scotland’s legal system. They roughly correspond to our American Internal Affairs Department with their mandate to investigate infractions within the police department itself. The usual crew is here: Malcolm Fox, the leader, Tony Kaye, and Joe Navsmith. The group works well together, and the interplay is often the pivotal part of the
L.K. Jay
Dec 07, 2011 L.K. Jay rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime
I came to the Rankin novels somewhat late, my mother has read everything that Ian Rankin has written; if her favourite author wrote a new version of the telephone directory she would buy the hardback version and want it signed. But when I was off work for a while, she gave me the first Rebus novels and after the first few pages I was hooked.

I liked 'The Complaints' and I liked the fact that Inspector Malcolm Fox is the antithesis of John Rebus, he doesn't drink and he is one of the policemen th
GS Nathan
Feb 02, 2013 GS Nathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think this is probably the finest Ian Rankin story I have read. Inspector Rebus was a set of memorable detective stories and well liked, but in this Malcolm Fox series, I think Rankin is at the height of his powers. I really hope he writes more books with Fox as the hero.

Malcolm Fox and his team set out to tackle a mundane case of police corruption and cover up and stumble on to a long ago murder that everyone has forgotten. Stung by his father thinking he is not a 'real' cop, Fox sets out to
Patrick O'Neil
In America we call them Internal Affairs, in Ian Rankin's The Impossible Dead they're called "The Complaints" – cops that bust cops – there's three of them, they joke a lot; one's on the wagon, one's a bachelor, and one's married. That's how you tell them apart. Then there were a bunch of mumbling Scotsmen, some political stuff that was way old and out dated, a grumpy half senile dad, and an annoyingly bitchy sister, both of which belong to the non-drinking cop. Of course I'm forgetting a few ch ...more
Nov 13, 2013 Ed rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ingeniously complex and challenging. Rebus has an worthy and admirable successor.....Ed
Lakis Fourouklas
One could say that it is sometimes a blessing to be a British crime fiction author, since the local publishers do not ask their writers to deliver a new book every six months, and thus the standards one has come to expect of them remain high as ever.
Ian Rankin is one of those “lucky” authors and so we are not surprised to receive yet another great novel from him. In this his main protagonist is inspector Malcolm Fox whom we’ve first met in his previous novel, The Complaints, who’s now called to
May 04, 2015 Sónia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Foi a minha estreia com este autor. O início algo lento e confuso deixou-me um pouco de pé atrás na primeira metade do livro. E ainda bem que não sou pessoa de desistir de uma leitura, mesmo que se venha a revelar um verdadeiro embuste. Este não foi o caso. Julgo, até, que a forma como Ian Rankin iniciou a obra, depois de esta estar lida, faz todo o sentido, tendo em conta que Uma Morte Impossível se trata de um romance subtil e intrigante.

Mesmo (ainda) não tendo lido o primeiro volume desta sér
Craig Pittman
I read the first book of Ian Rankin's new series about Inspector Fox of "The Complaints" (the Scottish police version of Internal Affairs) all in a fever. I was amazed by its twists and turns and the deft way Rankin handled each scene and character. I couldn't wait to read the second one in the series, this book. It was pretty good, but the ending was a bit of a letdown compared to the first one.

Fox is still dealing with his troubled sister and his aging father. Meanwhile at work he and his coll
Simon McDonald
Mar 19, 2012 Simon McDonald rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The complexity of Ian Rankin's The Impossible Dead is astounding - for all the right reasons.

What begins as a seemingly simple affair - Malcom Fox and his Internal Affairs colleagues, dubbed the Complaints, investigate allegations made about Detective Paul Carter - quickly descends into the past and, oninously for Fox, a terrorist group that was part of the Scottish Nationalist movement back in the 80s. Rankin ties the various threads together perfectly; he's a veteran of the contemporary crime
Nov 11, 2011 Ken rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've always liked the way Ian Rankin fills out the characters in his books, so you get to know the people pretty well. Over lots of books this really fleshed out Rebus, his friends and enemies in the police, his romantic entanglements and even the criminal world he confronted. He's doing the same thing with Malcolm Fox. The problem for me is that Malcolm's a much duller character than Rebus, and his conflicts with the rest of the force lack the sparkle I've come to expect.

This one starts *very*
Anthony Fisher
Ian Rankin is one of my favourite authors. I have read and own all of his books to date. I thoroughly enjoyed all of his books until this one. I cannot put my finger on the problem. It was a real disappointment and an effort to read (I have breezed through all his other ones!). I just could not get into it. To me there was no excitement, the plot just seemed to plod along and I could not care about any of the characters in particular. At the end I really missed 'Rebus'. Fox does not come close a ...more
Mar 13, 2012 Sara rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
While I did manage to finish this book, it failed to grab me, and left me wondering what it was all about. There didn't seem to be a central conflict that was worth caring about, and the mystery surrounding a "cold case" was not compelling and didn't tie into the contemporary case in a meaningful or significant way. As other reviews mentioned, the main character - Malcolm Fox - is elusive and hard to identify with. This doesn't make him all the more mysterious and intriguing. His is not a well-d ...more
Jan 03, 2013 Louise rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
oh dear, probably my least favourite Rankin book... maybe the character didnt do anything for me (I do like Rebus as a whole, though have read a Fox book before).
the story didnt go anywhere for me, no great surprises, no twists , no turns, and a tad too much time talking about Fox's dad.
Dec 05, 2016 Marilia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Απολαυστικό αυθεντικό αστυνομικό. Μπορεί και να συμπαθώ τον Μάλκομ Φοξ περισσότερο απ' τον Ρέμπους.
Abhyudaya Shrivastava
After a long time, I have been able to invest myself in a thriller. I hated the villains and loved the heroes in it. This book had history and politics. It went back to the times when Scotland was undergoing political transformation. It talked about the modern day police department and the descriptions just took me there. Full marks to Rankin.
Apr 02, 2017 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, mystery
Ian Rankin is right up there near, or at, the top of my list of good mystery writers, and this book confirmed it. Even without Rebus it was a convoluted but believeable, satisfying piece of escape reading, which is what I want from a mystery.
Ishmael Seaward
Apr 29, 2012 Ishmael Seaward rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another great crime novel featuring Malcolm Fox and the Complaints (Internal Affairs) division, the second Malcom Fox novel. Paul Carter is a disgraced ex-cop, convicted of demanding favors from women he arrested on the street. Fox and his team are sent in to investigate if there was a cover-up by Carter's fellow cops. An obvious place to start is Alan Carter, uncle to Paul and the man who initiated the charges against Paul. But after Fox's visit to Alan Carter, he is found dead. The evidence su ...more
Tom Greer
Dec 06, 2014 Tom Greer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Malcolm Fox is Rankin's alternative to Rebus and a very different character he is too. He's a tee total sticker for the rules and not remotely interested in music.

Therefore Fox's character can't really compete with Rebus in terms of charisma, which tends to slightly harm the Fox novels and is perhaps why Rankin has placed the rather weaker Fox character along with Rebus in "The Saints of the Shadow Bible" and why I can see Rankin pairing the (now) DI Clarke with Fox in future novels when Rebus
Michael Martz
Jul 04, 2014 Michael Martz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've enjoyed Rankin's Rebus character in a number of novels, and this is my first with Malcolm Fox, head of the Complaints (similar to IAD) in the starring role. It's a promising series, but definitely not the same as Rebus.

As with many good mysteries, The Impossible Dead starts out in one direction, a fairly easy role for the Complaints team to investigate a nearby department's improper handling of a citizen accusation against one of their own, and branches off into something considerably more
Shirley Schwartz
Jul 24, 2016 Shirley Schwartz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second book in Ian Rankin's Malcolm Fox series. I was told that I should read these two books before I go any further in the John Rebus series because the two wily policemen collide in the next Rebus book after the one that I've got lined up to read. I enjoyed Malcolm Fox. He's very different from Rebus, but in true Ian Rankin fashion, Fox is backed by some stellar secondary characters - his partners Tony Kaye and Joe Naysmith are wonderful counterpoints to the straight-laced, toreme ...more
Nov 29, 2013 Lianne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first Ian Rankin novel and I absolutely enjoyed it from start to finish. The case itself was a bit of a slow burn as Malcolm and his team were initially in the town due to investigate Detective Paul Carter, only to stumble onto a larger case with wider implications. Nationalist politics, radical movements, espionage and cover-ups, it really held my interest as you follow Malcolm trying to piece everything together and figure out what was really going on.

What I especially enjoyed abou
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Bad Boy (Inspector Banks, #19)
  • Midnight Fugue (Dalziel and Pascoe, #24)
  • The End of the Wasp Season (Alex Morrow, #2)
  • Dark Blood (Logan McRae, #6)
  • Good As Dead (Tom Thorne, #10)
  • Cold in Hand (Charles Resnick, #11)
AKA Jack Harvey.

Born in the Kingdom of Fife in 1960, Ian Rankin graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1982 and then spent three years writing novels when he was supposed to be working towards a PhD in Scottish Literature. His first Rebus novel was published in 1987; the Rebus books are now translated into 22 languages and are bestsellers on several continents.

Ian Rankin has been elected a
More about Ian Rankin...

Other Books in the Series

Malcolm Fox (2 books)
  • The Complaints

Share This Book

“Christ on a bike, Tony …” 3 likes
“POETS Day, remember! Fox smiled to himself: Piss Off Early, Tomorrow’s Saturday. It was all the invitation he needed.” 2 likes
More quotes…