Orion £18.99 (428pp) £17.09 (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030

The Complaints, By Ian Rankin

Slipping between the pages of an Ian Rankin novel is like pulling on a comfortable old jacket. But rather than the crumpled cigarette packet or empty quarter of single malt one might expect to find in the pockets, in The Complaints it's more likely to be a can of Irn Bru and a salad roll. This is the first novel to feature Malcolm Fox, a very different kind of policeman to Rankin's famously hard-living and much-loved John Rebus.

Comparing the two characters is unavoidable, and Rankin is well aware of the furore his new creation will create. He has even intimated that Fox and Rebus may cross paths at some future point. What they will make of each other is anyone's guess – Fox is divorced with no children, in his forties, lives alone and likes to listen to birdsong on the radio rather than Seventies LPs.

He regularly visits his father in a nursing home and tries to help his sister who, it quickly becomes apparent, is in an abusive relationship. Fox, as a recovering alcoholic, doesn't drink - so it's warm tomato juice in Minter's rather than a pint in the Oxford Bar.

But the biggest difference is in the crimes they investigate. Fox works for the Professional Standards Unit at the Lothian and Borders Police in Edinburgh, aka The Complaints. His remit is to bang up bent cops rather than gangland giants, a watchman of watchmen and exposer of the inner workings of law enforcement. We meet Fox as he's completed a case against a high-ranking officer – an investigation that has made him enemies across the force.

He's asked to look into child pornography allegations against a young high-flyer, Jamie Breck, but Fox's objectivity – and innocence – is drawn into question when his sister's boyfriend is found murdered and Breck is one of the investigating officers. Fox finds himself warming to Breck but their tentative friendship threatens both careers as well as making the pair evaluate their own morality, both in the workplace and beyond.

With its Edinburgh setting, suave crime lords and renegade officers, The Complaints will be familiar territory to Rebus fans - even if its hero isn't. In trading in his leading man for a younger model, Rankin is able, convincingly, to explore contemporary topics like the mores of online role-playing games, and lets Fox get involved in some muscular crime fighting.

Getting to know this man, an intriguing mix of apathy and action, is almost like a courtship – each new situation reveals something that makes the reader want to know yet more. Fox may not be as troubled as his predecessor but he certainly has his demons. The backdrop is this year's financial meltdown, with failed property deals as a integral part of the plot. But as civilisation crumbles in the face of the credit crunch, Fox stays firm, becomes fearsome and forges a friendship, both with Jamie Breck and, I'll warrant, a slew of new followers.

Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Arts and Entertainment
U2's Songs of Innocence album sleeve

tvU2’s latest record has been accused of promoting sex between men

Arts and Entertainment
Alison Steadman in Inside No.9
tvReview: Alison Steadman stars in Inside No.9's brilliant series finale Spoiler alert
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • 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.

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk