Knots and Crosses (Inspector John Rebus Series #1)

Knots and Crosses (Inspector John Rebus Series #1)

by Ian Rankin

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Inspector John Rebus: His city is being terrorized by a baffling series of murders...and he's tied to a maniac by an invisible knot of blood. Once John Rebus served in Britain's elite SAS. Now he's an Edinburgh cop who hides from his memories, misses promotions and ignores a series of crank letters. But as the ghoulish killings mount and the tabloid headlines scream, Inspector Rebus cannot stop the feverish shrieks from within his own mind. Because he isn't just one cop trying to catch a killer, he's the man who's got all the pieces to the puzzle....

Knots and Crosses introduces gifted mystery novelist Ian Rankin, a fascinating locale and the most compellingly complex detective hero at work today.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781466883635
Publisher: St. Martin''s Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/21/2014
Series: Inspector John Rebus Series , #1
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 7,730
File size: 289 KB

About the Author

Ian Rankin is the worldwide #1 bestselling writer of the Inspector Rebus books, including Hide and Seek, Let It Bleed, Black and Blue, Set in Darkness, Resurrection Men, A Question of Blood, The Falls and Exit Music. He is also the author of The Complaints and Doors Open. He has won an Edgar Award, a Gold Dagger for fiction, a Diamond Dagger for career excellence, and the Chandler-Fulbright Award. He has been elected a Hawthornden Fellow, and received the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his contributions to literature. He graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1982. He lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, with his wife and their two sons.
Ian Rankin is the worldwide #1 bestselling writer of the Inspector Rebus books, including Knots and Crosses, Hide and Seek, Let It Bleed, Black and Blue, Set in Darkness, Resurrection Men, A Question of Blood, The Falls and Exit Music. He is also the author of The Complaints and Doors Open.  He has won an Edgar Award, a Gold Dagger for fiction, a Diamond Dagger for career excellence, and the Chandler-Fulbright Award. He has been elected a Hawthornden Fellow, and received the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his contributions to literature. He graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1982. He lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, with his wife and their two sons.


Edinburgh, London and France

Date of Birth:

April 28, 1960

Place of Birth:

Cardenden, Scotland


Edinburgh University

Read an Excerpt

Knots and Crosses

By Ian Rankin

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 1987 Ian Rankin
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-8363-5


On the steps of the Great London Road police station in Edinburgh, John Rebus lit his last legitimate cigarette of the day before pushing open the imposing door and stepping inside.

The station was old, its floor dark and marbled. It had about it the fading grandeur of a dead aristocracy. It had character.

Rebus waved to the duty sergeant, who was tearing old pictures from the notice-board and pinning up new ones in their place. He climbed the great curving staircase to his office. Campbell was just leaving.

"Hello, John."

McGregor Campbell, a Detective Sergeant like Rebus, was donning coat and hat.

"What's the word, Mac? Is it going to be a busy night?" Rebus began checking the messages on his desk.

"I don't know about that, John, but I can tell you that it's been pandemonium in here today. There's a letter there for you from the man himself."

"Oh yes?" Rebus seemed preoccupied with another letter which he had just opened.

"Yes, John. Brace yourself. I think you're going to be transferred to that abduction case. Good luck to you. Well, I'm off to the pub. I want to catch the boxing on the BBC. I should be in time." Campbell checked his watch. "Yes, plenty of time. Is anything wrong, John?" Rebus waved the now empty envelope at him.

"Who brought this in, Mac?"

"I haven't the faintest, John. What is it?"

"Another crank letter."

"Oh yes?" Campbell sidled over to Rebus's shoulder. He examined the typed note. "Looks like the same bloke, doesn't it?"

"Clever of you to notice that, Mac, seeing as it's the exact same message."

"What about the string?"

"Oh, it's here too." Rebus lifted a small piece of string from his desk. There was a simple knot tied in its middle.

"Queer bloody business." Campbell walked to the doorway. "See you tomorrow, John."

"Yes, yes, see you, Mac." Rebus paused until his friend had made his exit. "Oh, Mac!" Campbell came back into the doorway.


"Maxwell won the big fight," said Rebus, smiling.

"God, you're a bastard, Rebus." Gritting his teeth, Campbell stalked out of the station.

"One of the old school," Rebus said to himself. "Now, what possible enemies could I have?"

He studied the letter again, then checked the envelope. It was blank, save for his own name, unevenly typed. The note had been handed in, just like the other one. It was a queer bloody business right enough.

He walked back downstairs and headed for the desk.


"Yes, John."

"Have you seen this?" He showed the envelope to the desk sergeant.

"That?" The sergeant wrinkled not only his brow but, it seemed to Rebus, his whole face. Only forty years in the force could do that to a man, forty years of questions and puzzles and crosses to bear. "It must have been put through the door, John. I found it myself on the floor just there." He pointed vaguely in the direction of the station's front door. "Is anything up?"

"Oh no, it's nothing really. Thanks, Jimmy."

But Rebus knew that he would be niggled all night by the arrival of this note, only days after he had received the first anonymous message. He studied the two letters at his desk. The work of an old typewriter, probably portable. The letter S about a millimetre higher than the other letters. The paper cheap, no water-mark. The piece of string, tied in the middle, cut with a sharp knife or scissors. The message. The same typewritten message:


Fair enough; perhaps there were. It was the work of a crank, a kind of practical joke. But why him? It made no sense. Then the phone rang.

"Detective Sergeant Rebus?"


"Rebus, it's Chief Inspector Anderson here. Have you received my note?"

Anderson. Bloody Anderson. That was all he needed. From one crank to another.

"Yes, sir," said Rebus, holding the receiver under his chin and tearing open the letter on his desk.

"Good. Can you be here in twenty minutes? The briefing will be in the Waverley Road Incident Room."

"I'll be there, sir."

The phone went dead on Rebus as he read. It was true then, it was official. He was being transferred to the abduction case. God, what a life. He pushed the messages, envelopes and string into his jacket pocket, looking around the office in frustration. Who was kidding who? It would take an act of God to get him to Waverley Road inside of half an hour. And when was he supposed to get round to finishing all his work? He had three cases coming to court and another dozen or so crying out for some paperwork before his memory of them faded entirely. That would be nice, actually, nice to just erase the lot of them. Wipe-out. He closed his eyes. He opened them again. The paperwork was still there, large as life. Useless. Always incomplete. No sooner had he finished with a case than another two or three appeared in its place. What was the name of that creature? The Hydra, was it? That was what he was fighting. Every time he cut off a head, more popped into his in-tray. Coming back from a holiday was a nightmare.

And now they were giving him rocks to push up hills as well.

He looked to the ceiling.

"With God's grace," he whispered. Then he headed out to his car.


The Sutherland Bar was a popular watering-hole. It contained no jukebox, no video machines, no bandits. The decor was spartan, and the TV usually flickered and jumped. Ladies had not been welcome until well into the 1960s. There had, it seemed, been something to hide: the best pint of draught beer in Edinburgh. McGregor Campbell supped from his heavy glass, his eyes intent on the television set above the bar.

"Who wins?" asked a voice beside him.

"I don't know," he said, turning to the voice. "Oh, hello, Jim."

A stocky man was sitting beside him, money in hand, waiting to be served. His eyes, too, were on the TV.

"Looks like a cracker of a fight," he said. "I fancy Mailer to win."

Mac Campbell had an idea.

"No, I reckon Maxwell will walk it, win by a mile. Fancy a bet?"

The stocky man fished into his pocket for his cigarettes, eyeing the policeman.

"How much?" he asked.

"A fiver?" said Campbell.

"You're on. Tom, give me a pint over here, please. Do you want one yourself, Mac?"

"Same again, thanks."

They sat in silence for a while, supping the beer and watching the fight. A few muffled roars went up occasionally from behind them as a punch landed or was dodged.

"It's looking good for your man if it goes the distance," said Campbell, ordering more drinks.

"Aye. But let's wait and see, eh? How's work, by the way?"

"Fine, how's yours?"

"A pure bloody slog at the moment, if you must ask." Some ash dropped onto his tie as he talked, the cigarette never leaving his mouth, though it wobbled precariously from time to time. "A pure slog."

"Are you still chasing up that drugs story?"

"Not really. I've landed on this kidnapping thing."

"Oh? So has Rebus. You'd better not get into his hair."

"Newspapermen get in everybody's hair, Mac. It goes with the etcetera."

Mac Campbell, though wary of Jim Stevens, was grateful for a friendship, however tenuous and strained it had sometimes been, which had given him some information useful to his career. Stevens kept much of the juiciest tidbits to himself, of course. That's what "exclusives" were made of. But he was always willing to trade, and it seemed to Campbell that the most innocuous pieces of gossip and information often seemed adequate for Stevens' needs. He was a kind of magpie, collecting everything without prejudice, storing much more of it than, surely, he would ever use. But with reporters you never could tell. Certainly, Campbell was happier with Stevens as a friend than as an enemy.

"So what's happening about your drugs dossier?"

Jim Stevens shrugged his creased shoulders.

"There's nothing in there just now that could be of much use to you boys anyway. I'm not about to let the whole thing drop though, if that's what you mean. No, that's too big a nest of vipers to be allowed to go free. I'll still be keeping my eyes open."

A bell rang for the last round of the fight. Two sweating, dog-tired bodies converged on one another, becoming a single knot of limbs.

"Still looks good for Mailer," said Campbell, an uneasy feeling coming over him. It couldn't be true. Rebus wouldn't have done that to him. Suddenly, Maxwell, the heavier and slower-moving of the two fighters, was hit by a blow to the face and staggered back. The bar erupted, sensing blood and victory. Campbell stared into his glass. Maxwell was taking a standing count. It was all over. A sensation in the final seconds of the contest, according to the commentator.

Jim Stevens held out his hand.

I'll kill bloody Rebus, thought Campbell. So help me, I'll kill him.

Later, over drinks bought with Campbell's money, Jim Stevens asked about Rebus.

"So it looks as if I'll be meeting him at last?"

"Maybe, maybe not. He's not exactly friendly with Anderson, so he may well get the shitty end of the stick, sitting at a desk all day. But then John Rebus isn't exactly friendly with anybody."


"Ach, he's not that bad, I suppose, but he's not the easiest of men to like." Campbell, ducking from his friend's interrogative eyes, studied the reporter's tie. The recent layer of cigarette-ash had merely formed a veil over much older stains. Egg, perhaps, fat, alcohol. The scruffiest reporters were always the sharp ones, and Stevens was sharp, as sharp as ten years on the local newspaper could make a man. It was said that he had turned down jobs with London papers, just because he liked to live in Edinburgh. And what he liked best about his job was the opportunity it gave him to uncover the city's murkier depths, the crime, the corruption, the gangs and the drugs. He was a better detective than anyone Campbell knew, and, because of that very fact perhaps, the high-ups in the police both disliked and distrusted him. That seemed proof enough that he was doing his job well. Campbell watched as a little beer escaped from Stevens' glass and dripped onto his trousers.

"This Rebus," said Stevens, wiping his mouth, "he's the brother of the hypnotist, isn't he?"

"Must be. I've never asked him, but there can't be too many people about with a name like that, can there?"

"That's what I was thinking." He nodded to himself as though confirming something of great importance.

"So what?"

"Oh, nothing. Just something. And he's not a popular man, you say?"

"I didn't say that exactly. I feel sorry for him really. The poor bugger has a lot on his plate. He's even started getting crank letters."

"Crank letters?" Smoke enveloped Stevens for a moment as he puffed on another cigarette. Between the two men lay a thin blue pub-haze.

"I shouldn't have told you that. That was strictly off the record."

Stevens nodded.

"Absolutely. No, it's just that I was interested. That sort of thing does happen though, doesn't it?"

"Not often. And not nearly as queer as the ones he's getting. I mean, they're not abusive or anything. They're just ... queer."

"Go on. How so?"

"Well, there's a bit of string in each one, tied into a knot, and there's a message that reads something like 'clues are everywhere.'" "Bloody hell. That is strange. They're a strange family. One a bloody hypnotist and the other getting anonymous notes. He was in the Army, wasn't he?"

"John was, yes. How did you know?"

"I know everything, Mac. That's the job."

"Another funny thing is that he won't speak about it."

The reporter looked interested again. When he was interested in something, his shoulders shivered slightly. He stared at the television.

"Won't speak about the Army?"

"Not a word. I've asked him about it a couple of times."

"Like I said, Mac, it's a funny family that one. Drink up, I've got lots of your money left to spend."

"You're a bastard, Jim."

"Born and bred," said the reporter, smiling for only the second time that evening.


"Gentlemen, and, of course, ladies, thank you for being so quick to gather here. This will remain the centre of operations during the inquiry. Now, as you all know ..."

Detective Chief Superintendent Wallace froze in mid-speech as the Inquiry Room door pushed itself open abruptly and John Rebus, all eyes turned towards him, entered the room. He looked about in embarrassment, smiled a hopeful but wasted apology towards the senior officer, and sat himself down on a chair nearest to the door.

"As I was saying," continued the superintendent.

Rebus, rubbing at his forehead, studied the roomful of officers. He knew what the old boy would be saying, and right now the last thing he needed was a pep-talk of the old school. The room was packed. Many of them looked tired, as if they'd been on the case for a while. The fresher, more attentive faces belonged to the new boys, some of them brought in from stations outwith the city. Two or three had notebooks and pencils at the ready, almost as if they were back in the school classroom. And at the front of the group, legs crossed, sat two women, peering up at Wallace, who was in full flight now, parading before the blackboard like some Shakespearean hero in a bad school play.

"Two deaths, then. Yes, deaths I'm afraid." The room shivered expectantly. "The body of Sandra Adams, aged eleven, was found on a piece of waste ground adjacent to Haymarket Station at six o'clock this evening, and that of Mary Andrews at six-fifty on an allotment in the Oxgangs district. There are officers at both locations, and at the end of this briefing more of you will be selected to join them."

Rebus was noticing that the usual pecking-order was in play: inspectors near the front of the room, sergeants and the rest to the back. Even in the midst of murder, there is a pecking-order. The British Disease. And he was at the bottom of the pile, because he had arrived late. Another black mark against him on someone's mental sheet.

He had always been one of the top men while he had been in the Army. He had been a Para. He had trained for the SAS and come out top of his class. He had been chosen for a crack Special Assignments group. He had his medal and his commendations. It had been a good time, and yet it had been the worst of times, too, a time of stress and deprivation, of deceit and brutality. And when he had left, the police had been reluctant to take him. He understood now that it was something to do with the pressure applied by the Army to get him the job that he wanted. Some people resented that, and they had thrown down banana skins ever since for him to slide on. But he had sidestepped their traps, had performed the job, and had grudgingly been given his commendations here also. But there was precious little promotion, and that had caused him to say a few things out of line, a few things that were always to be held against him. And then he had cuffed an unruly bastard one night in the cells. God forgive him, he had simply lost his head for a minute. There had been more trouble over that. Ah, but it was not a nice world this, not a nice world at all. It was an Old Testament land that he found himself in, a land of barbarity and retribution.

"We will, of course, have more information for you to work on come tomorrow, after the post-mortems. But for the moment I think that will do. I'm going to hand you over to Chief Inspector Anderson, who will assign you to your tasks for the present."

Rebus noticed that Jack Morton had nodded off in the corner and, if left unattended, would begin snoring soon. Rebus smiled, but the smile was short-lived, killed by a voice at the front of the room, the voice of Anderson. This was all Rebus needed. Anderson, the man at the centre of his out-of-line remarks. It felt for one sickening moment like predestination. Anderson was in charge. Anderson was doling out their tasks. Rebus reminded himself to stop praying. Perhaps if he stopped praying, God would take the hint and stop being such a bastard to one of his few believers on this near-godforsaken planet.

"Gemmill and Hartley will be assigned to door-to-door."

Well, thank God he'd not been landed with that one. There was only one thing worse than door-to-door ...

"And for an initial check on the M.O. files, Detective Sergeants Morton and Rebus."

... and that was it.

Thank you, God, oh, thank you. That's just what I wanted to do with my evening: read through the case histories of all the bloody perverts and sex-offenders in east central Scotland. You must really hate my guts. Am I Job or something? Is that it?

But there was no ethereal voice to be heard, no voice at all save that of the satanic, leering Anderson, whose fingers slowly turned the pages of the roster, his lips moist and full, his wife a known adulteress and his son — of all things — an itinerant poet. Rebus heaped curse after curse upon the shoulders of that priggish, stick-thin superior officer, then kicked Jack Morton's leg and brought him snorting and chaffing into consciousness.

One of those nights.


Excerpted from Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin. Copyright © 1987 Ian Rankin. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
Part One: "There are Clues Everywhere",
Part Two: "For Those Who Read Between the Times",
Part Three: Knot,
Part Four: The Cross,
Part Five: Knots & Crosses,
St. Martin's Paperbacks Titles by Ian Rankin,
Praise for Ian Rankin and Knots and Crosses,

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Knots and Crosses 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 39 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was bored. I was in Edinburgh for the day, following up on my own Scottish research interests, when shuffling along Princess Street, I found a bookshop with an interesting Ian Rankin display. The marketers would be proud. Their 'dark' book covers, enticed me into the store and to the crime section. I wanted something to read while passing the time in Edinburgh, waiting for my meeting as well as something to pass the time on the hour-long train ride back to Glasgow. After several years of visiting, I wanted to get to know the true Scotland. An old research tool, read 'the literature' generated from homegrown authors. I picked up Knots and Crosses, not realizing that this was the second in Rebus series. I found a nearby coffee shop and dived right in. I blanched at Rankin's descriptive powers. I kept looking up and about Princess Street, the Castle, and Scott Monument. Were these 'true-life' depictions of the city before me? I have lived in Washington, DC and I know about 'crime'. Edinburgh began to shed its' tourist skin. I was so engrossed that I almost missed my bus to my meeting. As the bus drove around Edinburgh, I began to view it through Rebus's eyes, his Edinburgh. Rankin molded the plot, the backdrop, wonderfully. My heart ached as I saw Rebus trying to exorcise his own demons, while untangling the puzzles, left virtually on his doorstep. I was a virtual 'fly on the wall', unobtrusive spirit, looking over Rebus shoulder, wondering where he would go and do next. I saw the 'grit, the dirt of Edinburgh.' Here was an author that didn't sugar coat fiction. I realized this was a series I needed to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A ride from Chapter 1 all the way through to the Epilogue. Throughly enjoyable. Hooked on the series
KenCady More than 1 year ago
Having read most of the Inspector Rebus novels except this one, it was nice to see where it all started. The first novel reads like many of the others, as the Rebus personality takes shape. Sad to note that he was such a lush from the beginning. If there is anything I didn't like about the Rebus books, it was all the boozing. Too much for me. Otherwise, I enjoyed the Edinburgh setting, a postcard view that we see as tourists hiding all those blemishes. Rankin creates great characters, many of whom I'd love to have a cup of tea with. From start to finish, if Exit Music is the finish, Ian Rankin has created a series of which he can be proud. A toast to you, Sir.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Fun to read a book by an author from another country. Good story and setting. Will read more in this series. Enjoy!
mahallett on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
i listened to this and missed a lot so i decided to read it because the series is so famous. this was just so improbable and the character so drunk and peculiar that i couldn't get into it. so little attention paid to the 3 girls who died for absolutely nothing,
nbmars on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There are some mysteries you read because they are the only things available in the airport gift shop and you are desperate; then there are those that rise above the designation of ¿airplane book¿ and are more aptly considered ¿crime novels.¿ Ian Rankin¿s books fall into the latter category.I ordered this book from the library because I had won a couple of Ian Rankin books featuring Inspector Rebus, but I do have an obsessive need to start at the beginning of a series. Knots and Crosses is Book One of the Inspector Rebus series. (The series begins with Knots & Crosses published in 1987, and ends with Exit Music published in 2007.) I¿m so glad I read this first book; it¿s very good, and gives a lot of background on Rebus that one might be glad to have later on in the series. And how can you not feel favorably disposed toward a book with the epigraph ¿To Miranda, without whom nothing is worth finishing.¿John Rebus is a 41-year-old Detective Sergeant of the Great London Road police station in Edinburgh, Scotland. Formerly, he was one of the elite Special Air Service (a special forces regiment of the British Army) ¿ a sort of Delta Force - but left after some kind of nervous breakdown, the circumstances surrounding which he has repressed. It has haunted his life however, and probably contributed to the break-up of his marriage. He sees his eleven-year-old daughter Samantha periodically, but interaction with her is awkward; in part, it is because she is a teenaged girl with very different interests than his own, and in part, it is because he is a loner, and a troubled man.Rebus¿s character is flawed in most interesting ways. To start with, he smokes and drinks to excess and tends to flout authority, but those traits are almost de rigueur these days for detectives in novels. But he has more unusual eccentricities as well: he has occasional bouts of kleptomania; flashbacks to his SAS training that can cause outbreaks of tears or even misdirected violent behavior; and an obsession with Christian guilt and the possibility of redemption.As the story begins, someone is strangling little girls about Samantha¿s age. The police are working around the clock to catch the killer before he strikes again.Rebus, putting in very long hours, mulls over the case as he straggles home each night from the station, wondering where the killer might be hiding:"Edinburgh slept on, as it had slept on for hundreds of years. There were ghosts in the cobbled alleys and on the twisting stairways of the Old Town tenements, but they were Enlightenment ghosts, articulate and deferential. They were not about to leap from the darkness with a length of twine ready in their hands.¿I love the depiction of Edinburgh as having Enlightenment ghosts.Tension builds, and Rankin adds some very clever twists. The question of course is how many girls will die before Rebus and his colleagues can solve the mystery.Evaluation: I did not anticipate the denouement at all, although I¿m generally rather dense anyway when it comes to mysteries. But even had I done so, I still would have enjoyed the journey. This is not a book of "cheap thrills," but there is sufficient tension and interesting characterization to keep you reading until late at night. Rankin is the recipient of four Crime Writers' Association Dagger Awards including the prestigious Diamond Dagger in 2005. In 2004, he won America's the Edgar Award for Resurrection Men. He has also been short-listed for the Edgar and Anthony Awards in the USA, and won Denmark's Palle Rosenkrantz Prize, the French Grand Prix du Roman Noir and the Deutscher Krimipreis.I found him to be an intelligent writer; I definitely want to continue with the Inspector Rebus series!
ImBookingIt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Interesting-- for the first half of the book, I thought it was more of a character study than a mystery. That was OK, I like books that are primarily about characters. In the second half of the book, many seemingly extraneous details tied in to the murder, as the character picture and the mystery filled in together.
Darrol on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Maybe it is because I am an American, therefore I identify better with trauma of the Vietnam vet like Henry Bosch (Michael Connelly) rather than the trauma of anti-IRA training--but this book seemed a little too melodramatic for my tastes. Does every city have its underground (literally) reality?
bcquinnsmom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Knots and Crosses is the John Rebus series intro. Rebus is a DS in Edinburgh and could quite easily serve as the poster child for angst-ridden policemen. Of course, he has reason for being this way: he¿s divorced, has a child from who he has become a bit alienated, has recurring nightmares back to the time he was with SAS, and has kept all of this buried within. In this installment of the series, Rebus is assigned to work on a case in which two young girls have been abducted and afterwards killed. At the same time, Rebus is receiving some really bizarre mail: either pieces of knotted string or crosses made from matchsticks. When a crisis arises having to do with his daughter, Rebus is nearly pushed to the edge and realizes that his unspoken (and mentally blocked) past contains answers to the present. The book is well written; this one is really more character driven than plot driven and at times you may become a little annoyed that so much of Rankin's internal torment spills out on to the pages. But it's really quite necessary here, so hang in there. As always in the first book in a series, the main character's personality is not quite yet fully developed, so I'm waiting to see if Rebus is less angst ridden as the series progresses. The supporting characters are portrayed well, and I love Rankin's plotting. I'd recommend this book to people who enjoy mysteries from the UK, and to anyone who hasn't yet ventured into this series. Overall, quite a good start to the series. And since I have quite a few more by this author on my shelves, I know I'll be back.
Romonko on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Like Edinburgh itself. John Rebus is very much a child of Edinburgh and the mystic highlands. This is the first book in the John Rebus series, and it's a good one. We get a good introduction to John Rebus, and the dark side of his character. I have seen some of these done on television, and I was really looking forward to beginning this series. It did not disappoint. It is easy to see why Rankin won the Gold Dagger and the Edgar prizes with this book. There is a lot of power in his writing, and he builds a good plot too. I am looking forward to reading more of John Rebus, and I will be prepared for more dark and brooding prose.
invisiblelizard on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have to admit¿being a Yank, an America, one of those¿that I didn't realize the significance of the title until I was well into it. We call it Tic-Tac-Toe out here, a name that is relatively meaningless, and I believe I like "Noughts and Crosses" much better since it actually represents the characters being played. Also, it would have let me in on the clever play-on-words that is this title.I was recommended this book by a salesman who calls me every once in a while at work to see if I would like to purchase his products (I never have) and I assumed he was just being friendly (which he usually is); however when I looked it up at the local bookstore, something about it reminded me of a series of books I read when I was a kid, mysteries by Lawrence Sanders (the Deadly Sin books). So even though this wasn't the sort of thing I'm reading now, for some reason I decided to pick it up anyway, and I was pleasantly surprised when I sat down to read it.First of all, I was intrigued by the setting. My work has afforded me the opportunity to visit Edinburgh and the surrounding area a couple times in the past year, and I really love that place. Something about it reminds me of the American Midwest (if the America Midwest had a big-ass castle in the middle of it). Reading a book set in the same city captivated me. Perhaps if I wasn't as familiar, or enthralled, by the setting, I wouldn't have enjoyed it as much.Second, the writing wasn't half-bad. This was one of Rankin's first books, and I've read in reviews that his style has matured since then, but even still it is not written with the usual clichés that I'm used to. I found that refreshing. His prose has a nice flow to it that, while not Dickens, is many steps up from the drivel that passes for pulp mystery fiction these days (it seems).His character, Inspector Rebus, is well-rounded, not a 100% good guy, just enough darkness under the covers to make him interesting. I think I would like to read more about him in future books, perhaps read them in chronological order to see how Rankin's writing style evolves. Here, Rebus is crass and sharp, sometimes a jerk, sometimes a good cop and a caring father as well.About the only thing I didn't like about this story was the plot, which ended up being a little too choppy (looking for the right word, here) as we're strung along by the unusual Macguffin of these knots and crosses, which happen to be sent to Rebus and would lead any imbecile (except most of characters in the first 2/3rds of this novel) to realize that he was somehow connected to the killer. It's almost as if Rankin doesn't really know what he wants to write about as he's working his way though this story. Maybe that's true. It was one of his first books, after all. Perhaps the rest get a little more organized. This one was good enough as is for me to want to find out.
Joybee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Young girls are being kidnapped and killed, Rebus's brother is involved in drug trafficking, Rebus is getting strange letters from an unknown person. Rebus will have to unlock memories of his past to catch the killer
LisaMaria_C on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I did finish this and it passed quickly--but then I do enjoy stories set in Britain by British authors, so this does bias me towards this serial killer police procedural set in Edinburgh, Scotland, and the setting was evocatively rendered. The style wasn't strong however--the author can't hold a point of view to save his life, and I even picked up slips in tense. I didn't care for the detective protagonist, John Rebus at all and given the story is more a character study of him than a mystery, that did affect my enjoyment. He's not much of a husband, brother or father (or a detective) and his distance from those around him meant I never felt close to him as a character--in fact a time or two he struck me as downright creepy. Several aspects of the plot, such as the use of hypnosis seemed pat and cliched--and it was unbelievable to me that it took so long for Rebus to get the connection between the string of anonymous notes he receives and its connections to him and the murders. This isn't a series I'll be revisiting.
crazybatcow on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Well, I started this book twice because the first time it was just too boring to read. The second time it was a bit better, but... nothing actually happens in it. I guess it was intended to introduce Rebus and give us his history, but... I thought it was kinda pathetic. There is some "crime" plot going on in the background, but the entire book is about Rebus and his sex life and his army nightmare (which was also pretty dumb because, come on, no military does that stuff to their own people). And there is a secondary character (newspaper reporter) that gets a lot of page-time but does absolutely nothing in or for the story so... Someone suggested this for a Reacher replacement... yeah, whatever... if Child's books were as lame as this one, they'd have to get, I dunno, Tom Cruise to play Reacher in the movies (oh, err... oops...)
-Eva- on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I used to live in Edinburgh and love that city dearly, so I'll just start with my little caveat that I may not be entirely unbiased when it comes to this book. The Edinburgh I lived in wasn't quite the grimy underbelly that Rebus hangs out in, but I know its edges and that, of course, raises the stakes for me. This book turned out to be the start of a long series about Rebus and it's quite a good start. We find out the reason why Rebus is the "standard" cranky detective - and it's not your average-detective reason. The plot line is a little messy, but for a first novel it presents a nice array of characters, foremost a sarcastic detective who reads (and buys) huge amounts of books - what's not to like?
msjoanna on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed the characterizations of Edinburgh as much as I enjoyed the characters. I found the plot arc somewhat predictable, but enjoyed the book enough to want to read more of the Inspector Rebus series. Since I already have the second book in the series, I'll give that one a try and hope that I find the plot a bit less generic.
PirateJenny on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I can't help seeing John Hannah as Rebus, but there are far worse things in life. Anyway, there is a spate of girls going missing but no one can see any connection between them, making figuring out the next victim next to impossible. To make matters worse, a reporter has himself convinced that Rebus is trafficking drugs and just won't leave him alone. I have to say, I really didn't see the reason the girls were being abducted at all, which to me is great. I love when I can't figure things out.
pw0327 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Amazon automated merchandise recommender keeps pushing this series to me because I loved Peter Robinson's Inspector Banks books, so I decided to try it out. This time I decided to do it chronologically. I certainly it gets better than the first book. Not that Knots and Crosses is terrible, it is better than most but I keep getting the feeling that Ian Rankin is capable of a lot more research and be elaborate more on the protagonist and antagonist's relationship. The description of the key to solving the mystery was done in a slap dash manner while I was really hoping for something more substantial.The characterization was a tad too cliched and workmanlike. The description of the chief protagonist was achingly pedestrian. the typical tortured anti-hero, the strong and silent cowboy non-conformist, no one understands and everyone leaves him because he i so odd, but he has a deadly secret ploy. This wouldn't be so bad except that it has been done to death.The best parts of the novel is the description of Edinbrough's streetscapes and what lays beneath the glitter and spit shine of the tourist's version of Edinbrough.All in all and in retrospect, this is an excellent start to a mystery series, but like I said, I was hoping for more. It may be unfair of me to say this but I really the plotting and the writing of Inspector Banks much much better.But I will go forth and tackle the next one in the series, hopefully it will improve.
Joycepa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Introducing Detective Sergeant John Rebus of the Edinburgh police.Rebus' past, which he can not remember, haunts him in dreams and even in waking life, with screams of "Don't leave me". Divorced, on good terms with his 12 year old daughter Samantha whom he adores, Rebus is caught up in a case of pre-teen girls who are strangled but not sexually assaulted, a puzzling type of serial murder. In addition, he receives a number of what he dismisses as crank notes, first at the station, then at home. It takes his lover, Detective Inspector Gill Templer, to intuit that the 2 are connected, and his brother Michael, a hypnotist, to unlock the past with the key to the murders.Very fast paced, tension kept high throughout. Concise prose, with gritty descriptions of characters and events. The descriptions of Edinburgh give what appears to be an authentic "feel" for the underside.Highly recommended.
adamallen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My first Ian Rankin read and my first crime/grit/inspector novel. A very good read and Inspector Rebus is an excellent character. It helps that Edinburgh is one of the settings...I've already purchased the second Rebus novel, Hide and Seek. I intend to read them in order if they continue to be this good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Disappointing characters and descriptions of Edinburgh.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Couldn't put it down
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
saw a review of thus author on PBS So I tried his first novel. Not that impressed but may want another by him.Must admit I'm a bit worn with tough cops especially after reading Lee Childs but I am enjoying Longmire on Netflix
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Perfect balance of character and action. No lurid overkill like so many thrillers these days. Solid, honest, engaging. Well worth reading. Classic, timeless.
Delphimo More than 1 year ago
Inspector Rebus is an enigma as a character. He seems gentle, religious, and blasé. But as the book progresses, the reader learns that Rebus trained for Special Forces in the military, and passed with flying colors, then has a mental breakdown after the completion. Rebus seems to pro through life with a failed marriage and a so-so police career. A serial killer has murdered two young girls, and then abducts Rebus's daughter. The story quickly ends after the abduction. I do not find any redeemable quality in Rebus as the main character.