Sophie Dusting's Reviews > The Impossible Dead

The Impossible Dead by Ian Rankin
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May 01, 12

Read in April, 2012

The Review:
Plot & pace - It's hard to follow such a successful series as Rebus and follow it up with another detective series however, Fox stands his own ground. As all good 'whoduunit' novels should, Rankin's story unfolds in layers adding twists and new levels to the conspiracy, giving way to new theories and problems. I love it when you really have no idea whom maybe responsible, when there are numerous candidates with equal amounts of motive. Fox is a more restrained detective, absorbing all the information before him before drawing conclusions. Yet, in some instances he is also brash and bold, being very proactive and forward thinking in his approach.

I felt the book though, was at first, quite difficult to sink my teeth into. It gained momentum the more I read however, in the earlier chapters I was contemplating whether this was the best choice of book to take on my holidays. Yet, ignoring the opening sequences, the more I read, the more I enjoyed and the more I got completely lost in the mystery.

Characters - There isn't a multitude of characters in the novel, though I still found keeping track of who was who and why Fox was questioning such and such difficult to sustain. The core three in the Complaints department, Fox, Kaye and Naysmith are a great threesome, with enough banter and wit to amuse any reader. The others are typical of most detective writing aka it's them against the world, the boss doesn't want to pursue it, the other inspectors think Fox is hopeless... it reminded me very much of the Touch of Frost series in that sense.

Language used and dialogue - There is a heavy reliance on the dialogue however, in this book it works. The quick back-chat between characters really builds up the atmosphere and is quite addictive once you get sunk into it. Without realising it you can read 50 pages in half and hour [minus the opening chapters of course]. The language is mostly conversational speak with few political or police terminology to throw you off balance. Only one word did I come across that I did not know the meaning of but fortunately my friend had her Kindle on holiday to find out the meaning; turns out fiefdom means a territory/estate/domain. Learn something new everyday.

Setting and narrative - Scotland lies in the heart of this novel and yet, unless a place or person had an obviously Scottish sounding name, I would of had no idea. But lets face it, when describing the Yorkshire moors or Lake District, without the names attached you may as well be in Scotland and vice versa. That said, perhaps the Scottish aspect made the characters seem more rough and tough and particularly the detective you can imagine being a bit of a hard nut.

Themes and ideas - What I really enjoyed most was how it was the police investigating the police and so in a sense, it took the traditional law and order theme and added another twist.

The Verdict - A great choice by my brother and his partner [it was a Christmas present] and definitely a good beach read. Fox is on the tail of Rebus; a solid detective novel, book of the month. 3 Stars.

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