The Complaints is the department of the police not liked by other policemen. Members of the Complaints and Conduct Department investigate other cops and are seen as almost traitors. Old fashioned coppers, respected by their colleagues for getting results, are brought down by the Complaints for sailing too close to the wind in pursuit of the truth. Malcolm Fox is an Inspector in the Complaints and has just successfully completed an investigation into a popular detective. This makes him some powerful enemies. His private life is not going too well either. He lives a solitary life since his wife left; his sister has an abusive boyfriend and his father is becoming frailer and lives in a care home.
He is then asked to investigate James Breck, a policeman who has allegations of child pornography against him. Breck turns out to be an interesting character and Fox gets on well with him. When a violent murder is discovered involving Fox's family, they begin to work together.
Money, business and intrigue all play a part in this tale, against a background of the modern day Edinburgh that Rankin loves.