The Impossible Dead, Paperback Book
4.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Malcolm Fox returns in the stunning second novel in Ian Rankin's series...Malcolm Fox and his team are back, investigating whether fellow cops covered up for Detective Paul Carter.

Carter has been found guilty of misconduct, but what should be a simple job is soon complicated by a brutal murder and a weapon that should not even exist. A trail of revelations leads Fox back to 1985, a year of desperate unrest when letter-bombs and poisonous spores were sent to government offices, and kidnappings and murders were plotted.

But while the body count rises the clock starts ticking, and a dramatic turn of events sees Fox in mortal danger.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Crime & mystery
  • ISBN: 9781409136293

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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

Second books in a series are hard to write, yet Ian Rankin makes it look effortless. Fox is an interesting central character divorced, at odds with his sister and worried about his failing father, his personal life is solitary, but he’s not isolated as he has an amazing rapport with his team, Tony Kaye and Joe Naysmith, one that feels genuine rather than the uniting of individuals in a difficult job. Fox is another driven policeman, determined to discover the truth and undercover corruption both within the force and outside.His latest investigation, a murder connected to the conviction of Detective Paul Carter for misconduct – Fox and his team are investigating whether any other officers in his station are implicated in the case – takes him back to the dark days of 1985 and the dark side of the separatist movement sending letter bombs and anthrax to government offices where the death of a prominent separatist lawyer was assumed to be suicide, but just might be murder.The story is brilliantly paced as Fox slowly makes his way to the shocking truth. A superb read.

Review by

The Impossible Dead is the second Malcolm Fox thriller from Ian Rankin and is an enjoyable read, if somewhat far-fetched. I liked the overall story - familiar Rankin territory of old cases, un-investigated sudden death and Scottish idealism. An internal affairs investigation by Fox and his complaints team soon becomes much bigger and takes on another dimension, this time involving politics, the security services, and a trail that leads to the very top. <br /><br />As usual for Rankin this was a well-written novel, with believable characters and a fairly convincing set of initial circumstances. But there were just too many coincidences for my liking, and there were a couple of times when I really struggled to suspend my disbelief. In the hands of a less competent author, the book would have been a total hash, but Rankin somehow transcends the limits of his plot and maintains the momentum, staying just the right side of believability. <br /><br />I enjoyed meeting Inspector Fox again, a much less abrasive character than Rebus, with a more believable personal life. The family elements were enjoyable and added depth...his father in a residential home and fighting the onset of dementia, a high-maintenance sister, and convincing work friendships. That said, I just wish that the investigation hadn't had quite such a personal link to the Fox family. And it would be great to read a Rankin police novel where the protagonist manages to solve the crime without pissing off his bosses and getting himself suspended. A good read though, and I am sure hardened Rankin fans won't be disappointed.<br />© Koplowitz 2012 <br /><br />