Review published on February 25, 2017.
Knots and Crosses is the book that introduced Inspector John Rebus to the world. His world-weary cynicism and unhealthy habits are forming, although they are still not fully developed, and right away we are introduced to Rebus’s environment of Edinburgh, its crimes, its criminals and its way of interfering with his personal life.
Two young girls have been kidnapped and murdered, and a third is missing, perhaps heading for the same fate. Rebus’s personal life has collapsed, his marriage is over and his daughter is down south with her mother, and then it starts to get more and more personal.
The post arrives, bringing knotted strings and matchstick crosses, with no indication of where they came from. Rebus delves into his own past in the army for the answers and he doesn’t like what he finds there. As he gets closer and closer to the truth, rubbing the powerful of Edinburgh the wrong way with his blunt charm, we learn more about Rebus and how his time in the army affected him. Ultimately, the identity of the murderer comes as a complete shock to both Rebus and the reader.
Knots and Crosses is where it all started for Rebus and, although originally it was only meant to be a one off, Ian Rankin soon discovered that there was a lot more to Rebus than he thought. It is the same characters we all know, albeit in a less formed state. This is an embryonic Rebus, but all fans of crime fiction and Scottish fiction will find something to love within these pages.
Ben Macnair 4/3
Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin
Orion 9780752883533 pbk Aug 2008