The Complaints

Last updated
The Complaints


First edition
Author Ian Rankin
Country Scotland
Language English
Genre Detective novel
Publisher Orion Books
Publication date
3 September 2009
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 381 pp
ISBN 0-7528-8951-6
Followed by The Impossible Dead

The Complaints is a novel by Scottish crime writer Ian Rankin. It was published in the United Kingdom on 3 September 2009.

Novel in Scotland

The novel in Scotland includes all long prose fiction published in Scotland and by Scottish authors since the development of the literary format in the eighteenth century. The novel was soon a major element of Scottish literary and critical life. Tobias Smollett's picaresque novels, such as The Adventures of Roderick Random and The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle mean that he is often seen as Scotland's first novelist. Other Scots who contributed to the development of the novel in the eighteenth century include Henry Mackenzie and John Moore.

Ian Rankin Scottish crime writer

Ian James Rankin, is a Scottish crime writer, best known for his Inspector Rebus novels.


Plot outline

Detective Inspector Malcolm Fox works in the Complaints and Conduct Department of Lothian and Borders Police, members of which are invariably treated with suspicion and hostility by regular police officers. Fox and his team are tasked with investigating Detective Sergeant Jamie Breck, suspected of being a member of a child pornography ring. However, Breck is in turn investigating the death of Vince Faulkner, who was in an abusive relationship with Fox's sister. This brings Fox into direct contact with Breck, and as he develops both a friendship and a working relationship with him he begins to doubt the validity of his assignment. Despite his personal connection to the case, and against protocol, Fox gets involved in the investigation into Faulkner's death. This brings him into conflict with Breck's superior officer, who harbours a dislike of Fox for investigating a corrupt officer under his command.

Lothian and Borders Police

Lothian and Borders Police was the territorial police force for the Scottish council areas of the City of Edinburgh, East Lothian, Midlothian, Scottish Borders and West Lothian between 1975 and 2013. The force's headquarters were in Fettes Avenue, Edinburgh.


Eventually, Fox and Breck are both suspended and Fox himself is placed under investigation. However, they continue to investigate Faulkner's death, discovering that he had links to a bankrupt property developer who appears to have committed suicide. This leads to further links to members of the criminal underworld, and in turn to a senior member of the police force, who is found to be responsible for having Breck framed and for having Fox placed under investigation.

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