Contented, caring and even teetotal – Rankin unveils a successor to Rebus

... and the crime writer even hints the two may meet up. Jonathan Brown reports

They will never be destined to sit down to share a drink and discuss Leonard Cohen's back catalogue, but Rebus fans can now look forward to meeting his replacement.

Ian Rankin's brooding anti-hero slipped into a melancholy retirement two years ago after patrolling the seamy side of his native Edinburgh for 17 best-selling novels. And now the author has introduced a very different kind of policeman to take over from the hard-drinking, misanthropic detective.

Speaking at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, Rankin described his new character, Malcolm Fox, as a man a world away from the maverick who helped him sell hundreds of thousands of books worldwide. "Fox is not a cynic, he is a caring guy who plays by the rules," explained the writer.

For a start Fox does not drink. He is also a "policeman of policemen". The new novel, The Complaints, is set in the Professional Standards Unit at the headquarters of the Lothian and Borders Police in Edinburgh with Fox investigating the activities of his fellow officers.

Rankin has set up the intriguing possibility of a future showdown between his chief protagonists, old and new, suggesting that: "Maybe in book three, Fox could investigate Rebus – that would be interesting."

Though he may have enjoyed a retirement drink – or eight – with his former colleagues at the end of Exit Music in 2007, Rebus will be back at work carrying out cold case reviews on behalf of his old force.

But he will remain very much in the background, working alongside three or four similarly superannuated detectives "just down the hall from the other guy". When, or if, they do eventually come face to face, it will be intriguing to see how the two men get on. Fox is in his 40s – 20 years younger than Rebus. "He's been off the booze a long time, he doesn't listen to music, he's not a loner, he just lives alone, but like Rebus, he is a cop in Edinburgh, so of course there are similarities," he added.

Laying down clues in the run-up to publication, Rankin has described Fox as a "team player, whiter than white." Unlike the gloomy Rebus, he maintains – rather than tests – relationships to destruction. He is close to his father, who lives in a care home, and gets on well with a sister, who lives in Edinburgh.

"He's a good character. I like spending time with him," said Rankin, who is braced for his new creation to be interpreted by fans in a variety of ways. "I am expecting people to say he is too like Rebus, or he is 'Rebus-lite', or 'why is he not Rebus?'" he said.

The latest book is set in contemporary Edinburgh, which Rankin described to the festival audience as "credit crunch ground zero". Fox is affected by the impact of the recession and its fatal fallout as he battles to find the truth about corrupt copper Jamie Breck.

His determination to succeed makes him unpopular at the station and when his own methods come under scrutiny the investigator finds himself with an array of enemies only too eager to see his downfall.

Authors branching out: Detective spin-offs

* PD James' poetry-loving policeman Adam Dalgliesh has proved one of the most enduring characters of the crime genre. But James has earned equal plaudits for her hardboiled female private detective Cordelia Gray, heroine of An Unsuitable Job for a Woman.

* The death of John Thaw robbed the world of one its most alluring detective creations – Colin Dexter's beer-swilling, Bach-humming Inspector Morse. But his put-upon sidekick Lewis has carved his own niche as the promoted inspector in an eponymous TV follow up.

* Sherlock Holmes made Sir Arthur Conan Doyle into a celebrity but by the time of His Last Bow in 1917, Conan Doyle was already developing the character of Professor George Edward Challenger for his science fiction series. Holmes was to make a return in 1927.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham and Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'

Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
The X Factor 2014 judges: Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole, Mel B and Louis Walsh

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace was caught by a camera van driving 32mph over the speed limit

TV
Arts and Entertainment
books
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Iain reacts to his GBBO disaster

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Outlaw Pete is based on an eight-minute ballad from Springsteen’s 2009 Working on a Dream album

books
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012

film
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering