cover image The Impossible Dead

The Impossible Dead

Ian Rankin. Little, Brown/Reagan Arthur, $25.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-316-03977-2

Insp. Malcolm Fox proves a worthy successor to John Rebus in Rankin’s satisfyingly layered second novel featuring the Edinburgh Internal Affairs cop (after The Complaints). Fox and his two colleagues receive a frosty reception in Kirkcaldy, where they must decide whether a disgraced officer’s three fellow cops helped cover up his misdeeds. Det. Constable Paul Carter, found guilty of sexual misconduct, intrigues Fox because it was Carter’s ex-copper uncle, Alan, who turned him in. Since interviewing the belligerent Carter and his mates leads nowhere, Fox turns to Alan for insight. He discovers the elder Carter was hired by a prestigious lawyer to look into the 1985 “suicide”—or possible murder—of Francis Vernal, a fellow attorney, well-known orator, and vocal supporter of the fringe Scottish separatist movement. Soon Fox’s attention is divided between following up scant leads in the Carter investigation and unearthing decades-old secrets about Vernal’s life and associates. Rankin elegantly weaves together the two story lines without forcing a connection. (Nov.)