From Publishers Weekly
Fans of Rankin's Det. Insp. John Rebus will be disappointed by this so-so police procedural, his second stand-alone since Rebus "retired" (after Doors Open). Malcolm Fox—call him Rebus "Lite" (he doesn't drink, he broods less, and he has none of Rebus's wit)—works for the Scottish equivalent of Internal Affairs, "Complaints and Conduct" (aka "the Complaints"), which investigates corrupt cops. Fox looks into the case of Det. Sgt. Jamie Breck, who may be trading in child pornography over the Internet. Meanwhile, when Vince Faulkner, Fox's sister's lover and abuser, turns up dead, Fox becomes a murder suspect. A torturously complicated plot follows involving the suspicious suicide of a failing property developer, large-scale money laundering, and crookedness at every level of Scottish society, but nothing's really at stake. As always with Rankin, Scotland itself is a main character—"the whole of Scotland's in meltdown," says Fox—and that may be this tepid novel's main attraction. 10-city author tour. (Mar.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* In the wake of Exit Music (2008), the concluding volume in his celebrated John Rebus series,Rankin has picked a most unlikely new hero. Edinburgh cop Malcolm Fox works for “the Complaints,” the despised internal-affairs division whose job it is to investigate other cops. Succeeding the Rebus novels, starring the quintessential maverick copper, with a series built around a cop-hunting cop seems akin to J. K. Rowling following Harry Potter with seven extra-thick novels about a classroom tattletale. And, yet, Rankin pulls it off, making Fox the fall guy in an elaborate police conspiracy and causing him to join forces with a detective under suspicion of peddling child porn. The strange-bedfellows angle drives the interpersonal dynamics here—and augurs well for future installments—as Fox, working off the books, investigates the murder of someone very close to home and attempts to turn the frame-up on its end. Some crime writers keep writing the same series with different characters, but Rankin deserves credit for going another way altogether. Fox is a good and quiet citizen compared to Rebus (he doesn’t drink and listens to birdsong on the radio, not classic rock), but Rankin doesn’t hold any of that against his new hero, proving that you can build complex, highly textured, series-worthy characters from the most unlikely of raw materials. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: A new series from the internationally best-selling Rankin is very big news in the mystery world, and his publisher will spread the word in every conceivable way—even including transit ads in New York and San Francisco. --Bill Ott