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The Impossible Dead

(Malcolm Fox #2)

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  8,036 ratings  ·  652 reviews
The Complaints: that's the name given to the Internal Affairs department who seek out dirty and compromised cops, the ones who've made deals with the devil. And sometimes The Complaints must travel.

A major inquiry into a neighboring police force sees Malcolm Fox and his colleagues cast adrift, unsure of territory, protocol, or who they can trust. An entire stat
Hardcover, 391 pages
Published November 21st 2011 by Reagan Arthur Books (first published 2011)
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Average rating 3.97  · 
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 ·  8,036 ratings  ·  652 reviews

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Dec 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scottish-authors

Number 2 in the Inspector Fox series.

First up, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Better, I think, than #1 ‘The Complaints’.

This is not a fast paced thriller but more of an intriguing slow burn.

What comes through strongly is the contempt that the rest of the Police Force has for ‘The Complaints Dept’.

Insp Fox is investigating a possible case of corruption within the Fyfe constabulary. One of the main accusers is found dead, possible suicide but Fox is not convi
Dec 13, 2011 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 t
Alex Cantone
There was a fierce wind blowing in from the North Sea. The water was choppy, and puddles along the promenade offered evidence that the tide was prone to breaking over the sea wall. The gulls overhead looked to be working hard to stay airborne. There was something odd about the design of this waterfront: almost no use had been made of it. Buildings tended to face away from the view and towards the town centre. Fox had noted this elsewhere in Scotland: from Fort William to Dundee, the planners see ...more
Jill Hutchinson
I am a great fan of Ian Rankin's Rebus series but can't say the same about those few books he has written about Malcolm Fox. Fox is in Complaints which is the division that investigates wrong doings within the police establishment and he and his partners are scorned and distrusted by the regular police. That premise could be the basis for a really interesting series but Fox is a cipher. It is hard to get involved in the plot when the main protagonist is so dull and and without personality. Unlik ...more
Amanda Patterson
Jan 31, 2012 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 In
Oct 27, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Two things for audiobook creators: 1. Don't put loud music as a lead-in to the book. It isn't necessary, adds nothing, and hurts my ears! 2. It isn't necessary to have readers speak with an accent that the people in the book supposedly use. Though I didn't like this book as well as the first book with Malcolm Fox, I don't think the above complaints (No pun intended.) have any bearing on my assessment. I see that I made one of the above complaints on the other Fox book. At least I am consistent! ...more
Mark Stevens
Jun 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
“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
Rob Twinem
Dec 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 04, 2012 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
Sep 07, 2012 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
L.K. Jay
Dec 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 11, 2011 rated it liked it
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*
GS Nathan
Feb 02, 2013 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
I quite enjoyed the story of Detective Inspector Malcolm Fox and his Internal Affairs team, named The Complaints, comprising himself, Detective Joe Naismith and Detective Tony Kaye. They had to investigate whether fellow policemen covered up for a corrupt colleague, Detective Paul Carter, who was found guilty of misconduct. But this supposedly simple job soon turned into a very complicated one, with conspiracy and cover-ups well and truly in the forefront!

A brutal murder from long ag
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 Re
Patrick O'Neil
Jul 03, 2013 rated it liked it
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 charac ...more
Olinda Bento
Jun 29, 2015 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.
Nov 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Ingeniously complex and challenging. Rebus has an worthy and admirable successor.....Ed
Aug 30, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ok, so this is partially on me. I was so desperate for an audiobook I manage to grab a second in the series, something that I'd normally avoid. And it sort of read (or was heard as such) for the longest time it was like entering the play on a second act. But then it evened out and became a more of less stand alone story about an investigator with Scottish equivalent of internal affairs department. It starts off as a fairly mundane questioning of the colleagues of a fellow police officer who is b ...more
Jan 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-reads
This originally appeared at The Irresponsible Reader.
Detective Paul Carter has been found guilty of some pretty clear-cut criminal activity. Fox and his team have been brought into investigate a neighboring force, Carter's own, to see who might have been involved with him -- or at the least covered up for him. They weren't involved with the original investigation, but that doesn't keep anyone from hating them as they come in for the follow-up.

Not too surprisingly, they're getting nowhere fast. So they go fishing -
Lakis Fourouklas
Nov 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 cal
Craig Pittman
Jan 15, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Simon McDonald
Mar 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 contemp
Mar 04, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: mysteries, 2012-goal
A solid procedural mystery but if I'm being totally honest, a little boring despite a plethora of red herrings and backstory. Still, Rankin is a
really good mystery author.
Michael Martz
Jul 04, 2014 rated it it was ok
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 consid
Anthony Fisher
Dec 11, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Jul 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
Rankin's John Rebus series is finished and this is the second book in the Malcolm Fox series, the first is called The Complaints. This book is a police procedural, the Complaints are a team of police who investigate problems with other police. They are called to another district to investigate corruption, and met with suspicion. There are deaths. There is some history in the plot, persons who have changed their identities, campus demonstrations in the 60s, letter bombs from the 80s, and of cours ...more
Mar 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Aug 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Malcom Fox is a despised member of the police force. He investigates other police officers. He is called in to look into the possible police collaboration with an officer who was convicted of illegal activities. His investigation leads him to open a can of worms and a couple of deaths. I like Ian's Malcom Fox series better than his more popular Inspector John Rebus series because Fox seems although equally flawed character, but more likeable. Recommended.
Jan 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
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.
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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 b

Other books in the series

Malcolm Fox (2 books)
  • The Complaints
“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
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