Ian Rankin

The Impossible Dead

"..a potent book to read right now!"


When Malcolm Fox and his team investigate an officer for corruption they get the verdict they wanted. The evidence against Paul Carter was overwhelming and the women who came forward to testify against him leads to him being announced as guilty. Now Fox is back in Fife to investigate Carter’s colleagues, the three men who closed ranks to protect their friend, despite what they knew. But it is after interviewing Carter’s uncle who started the original investigation that things get very interesting. Soon after Carter is on bail pending his sentence and then his uncle is killed – shot with a gun that shouldn’t exist. Then another death occurs and Fox and his team are embroiled in a case that harks back to the death decades before of a prominent orator of the Eighties.

How do the plans of Terrorist splinter groups reach down through the years to what is happening now? Yet again, Fox is thrown off a case only to go ‘maverick’ and start his own digging. But Fox soon discovers that he has bitten off more than he can chew and that many people in high places will do whatever it takes to keep the past well and truly buried…

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Following on from the bestseller, ‘The Complaints’, Rankin moves us along two years and, like Rebus, we are in ‘real time’. There have been significant changes in Fox’s world and some things just don’t change. He is still single, he is still with ‘Complaints’ and yet again he is digging a little deeper for some people’s comfort. One thing that has changed is Mrs. Sanderson, Mitch Fox’s companion at Lauder Lodge has passed on. I can’t say why, but the loss of Mrs. Sanderson had a profound effect on me. With many Rankin novels, several strands are kept smoothly running, each ball in the air never touching until the lines get blurred and over time you can see the strands merging, all heading to the same inevitable conclusion. It is down to Rankin’s mastery of telling a good story well told and without unnecessary deviation, embroidery or confusion that the dense story as told in ‘The Impossible Dead’ is easily followed. And that is down to the writer who always gives us a visual picture in our heads, whether it is Edinburgh or Fife or a little tic or mannerism of a character. Rankin knows how to flesh people and places out with a few simple words. I imagine he takes a few tips from his admired author, the incomparable Muriel Spark who produced brilliant, slim novels whilst telling a full bodied story. What more is there is say? Rankin is one of the biggest crime writers in the UK. I enjoyed ‘The Complaints’ and love the new team, especially Tony Kaye who is an excellent foil to Fox. ‘The Impossible Dead’ however is several gears up and gives a storming tale of youth, young dreams and the reality of age and experience and what people are prepared to fight for. On different levels it is also about acceptance and that which cannot be changed – by people or unknown forces. ‘The Impossible Dead’ is a riveting read full of guts, very strong and a potent book to read right now!

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