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.

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own