Mark Stevens's Reviews > The Impossible Dead

The Impossible Dead by Ian Rankin
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Jul 14, 12

Read from June 13 to July 08, 2012

“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—a cop investigating other cops—and how others view him. Matthew Fox works with a group of officers known as “The Complaints,” Internal Affairs.

“Part of the appeal of the Complaints had been its focus on rule broken rather than bones, on cops who crossed the line but were not violent men. Did that make him a coward? He didn’t think so. Less of a copper? Again, no.”

The Impossible Dead starts small and then the layers start peeling back. The ticklish-dicey-sticky relationship between an Internal Affairs a cop and other cops lives on almost every page, even as Fox’s pals in The Complaints caution Fox as he expands the initial investigation and starts to follow all the questions that come his way, not just the ones he’s been assigned to answer.

And Fox knows he might not be in The Complaints forever—and must respect that fact. Fox’s task is make sure regular cops aren’t cutting corners because “in a year or two he would be back in CID himself, rubbing shoulders with those he had scrutinised; trying to put drug dealers behind bars without bending the rules, fearful of The Complaints and coming to despise them."

It’s complicated. Fox’s life is complicated. The case is—a touch—complicated (I’d say it’s just about right, but you have to pay attention). The investigation does not lead in a straight line. It’s messy. There’s a murder that has its roots in 1985 and a very different era in Scottish history, when ardent separatists used terrorism as a tactic. Of course, it’s been a long time since then and people have changed. Really changed.

The ending of The Impossible Dead stays within itself and packs the proverbial wallop because of that very fact. The plot still has its feet very much on the ground and the final face-off is suspenseful and satisfying.
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message 1: by James (new)

James Thane I'm a big fan of Rankin's John Rebus series and am anxious to get to this one.


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