**spoiler alert** The Complaints is Ian Rankin's first novel featuring Detective Inspector Malcolm Fox as the protagonist. DI Fox works for the "Compl**spoiler alert** The Complaints is Ian Rankin's first novel featuring Detective Inspector Malcolm Fox as the protagonist. DI Fox works for the "Complaints and Conduct Department" of Lothian and Borders Police, the cops for Edinburgh (now part of Police Scotland). "The Complaints" are Scotland's version of the Internal Affairs department/bureau you'd find in most American police departments. DI Fox and his team are the IAB cops, part of the "rat squad."
(potential spoilers below)
The novel starts out fairly straightforward, an investigation of an allegedly dirty cop. The story takes a personal turn, as the cop being investigated is in turn assigned to look into the death of the abusive boyfriend of Fox's sister. The internal politics and behind-the-scenes machinations from there are the sorts of things one would expect from Rankin.
The story is solid and believable, although a bit worn. Rankin had his franchise character, DI John Rebus, butting heads with corrupt senior cops so many times, I let out a sigh when it came to Fox turning his attention to high-and-mightys as well. Unlike Rebus, though, it's Fox's job to follow the trail of corruption, so I let it go, and wasn't disappointed.
Fox is a teetotaler, which is a distinct difference in behavior and tone from Rebus. He's believable, but the stark contrast between the two men makes me wonder if Rankin believes that a middle ground can actually exist. His younger detectives drink, as do other characters. Is it possible to rise to the level of DI and not be an alcoholic?
Overall, this was a most enjoyable crime story. Recommended....more
Gail Carriger's Soulless starts with some great action. You can't help but be attracted to Alexia Tarabotti right from the start. To be in her twentieGail Carriger's Soulless starts with some great action. You can't help but be attracted to Alexia Tarabotti right from the start. To be in her twenties and already written off as a spinster is amusing to modern readers, but so very Victorian. Why she's still a spinster is where things get interesting. Alexia is a “soulless” – literally, she has no soul. In a Victorian England occupied by werewolves and vampires, as well as ordinary humans, this makes her quite the unique young (old) lady.
Gail Carriger carries off Steampunk with the best of the genre. Her interpretation of supernatural beings (vampires and werewolves) is well thought-out. There's serious backstory to her universe, not just men changing into animals or pale-skinned women biting necks. The notion of a “preter-natural” being, the soulless Alexia, complicates things for Lord Connall Maccon, head of the Bureau of Unnatural Registery (hey, this is England, there must be bureaucracy!), as she inserts herself into supernatural affairs. Lord Maccon's investigation of missing vampires gets an assist from Alexia, exposing Carriger's world while giving the reader an enjoyable adventure.
I came to Carriger's novels via an interesting route—The Steampunk Tarot. The deck caught my eye, and upon perusing the Major Arcana cards, I was struck by The Chariot. In a Steampunk universe, the chariot is artificially powered, and driven by a strong young woman. The companion book for the deck (well-written, by the way, for any deck) describes the woman, and essentially says she's a shout-out to Alexia. Mentioning Carriger by name as well, I figured this was a solid recommendation. I was right.
Alexia and her associates (some friends, social/political connections, some frenemies) become an informal group of “irregulars” known as the “Parasol Protectorate,” who continue their romp through London (and other cities in Europe) for four more novels. Entertaining plots with a well-developed backstory—my kind of fantasy story! ...more
Good read! Engaging characters in a very-believable fantasy realm. Magic/sorcery that works and doesn't stretch your willing suspension of disbelief.Good read! Engaging characters in a very-believable fantasy realm. Magic/sorcery that works and doesn't stretch your willing suspension of disbelief. Solid, strong female characters make fantasy novels better for me, and Sileria has a good mix, while again Resnick maintains believability in that women have their "place" in the society. Fire-versus-water magic is often oversimplified, but this is good stuff.
Throughout the novel, I couldn't but help wonder if the setting was a real-world idea turned into a fantasy realm, and I was right. I won't mention what it is, since that might be close to spoilers, but it's a technique that I like and works. David Drake used to do this with his "Hammer's Slammers" stories--take classic battles from other ages and turn them into fusion-tank epics. It's easier to establish geopolitical relationships that are believable when they did indeed happen at one point or another in real-world history.