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Rebus: The Early Years (Inspector Rebus #1-3)

4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  505 ratings  ·  28 reviews
KNOTS & CROSSES: Two girls have been abducted and brutally murdered. Now a third is missing. Detective Sergeant John Rebus, his own young daughter spirited away south by his disenchanted wife, is one of the policemen hunting the killer. And then the messages begin to arrive: knotted string and matchstick crosses - taunting Rebus with pieces of a puzzle only he can solv ...more
Paperback, 612 pages
Published May 18th 2000 by Orion (first published January 1st 1999)
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Community Reviews

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Oct 21, 2014 Stela rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those who enjoy detective stories
Recommended to Stela by: Carmen I.
I won't say I didn't enjoy it, because I did, sometimes I need light-reading and a detective story is a pretty good choice.
However, I hear these are not the best Rankin's novels, and I can see why not: the plot is somehow "gauche" even if the main character is pretty attractive, a mixture between hero and anti-hero.
Overall, it made me curious about the novelist development - so I'm pretty sure I will read another of his novels if/when I find it.
My wife is the big mystery fan in the family. I read a few every year to keep myself in touch with the genre; and a very good genre it is!

I discovered Rankin in an English rest stop in '99. At the time my wife was looking for something to read during our down time while on vacation in the Brisish Isles and Spain. I saw that Rankin was a mystery writer, showed her the book and she was hooked. She now owns 21 books by Rankin, including this omnibus, which I am giving to her when I finish reading i
Add Inspector John Rebus to my list of all-time favorite alcoholic, divorceé detectives, this one a Scot. He's always getting in trouble with the higher-ups for his renegade ways and surly manner, but, of course, it's always Rebus who cracks the case in the end. So far, I've got a strong preference for the early Rebus novels -- the more recent ones I've ready have been clunkier with convoluted plot lines. I prefer the simplicity of the earlier novels.
L.K. Jay
What can I say? I love Rebus! I was introduced to these books by my mother who is a real fan of Ian Rankin's books and a crime fiction expert. Well she should be by all the books she's read.

You have everything here, the streets of Edinburgh, Rebus's wit and character and a cracking good crime story. Rankin is, in my opinion, the best crime writer around and why can't crime fiction win a booker?
Michele picked this up for me and I'm glad she did as I would not have ventured into this otherwise. I've seen some of the TV films but must have been "TV detective'd out" as the fire didn't catch. Reading the tales is much more rewarding, even if Ken Stotts voice does ring out when Rebus is talking. Completed Knots and Crosses - you can sense Ian Rankin feeling his way into the characters and places and learning his craft as a writer. I do like a writer for whom the tale is important, not the t ...more
Jim Whitefield
‘Rebus: The Early Years’ is a compendium of Ian Rankin’s first three ‘Rebus’ detective stories. If you intend to read these books and have yet to buy them, the compendium is often available second hand, very inexpensively, on Amazon and will save on individual volumes. These are my reviews which can also be located under each individual book title.

Knots and Crosses: I thoroughly enjoyed my introduction to Ian Rankin's 'Rebus' books with this, his first such story. It includes a gradual and very
Tim Roast
This is a collection of the first three Rebus novels as written by Ian Rankin. The series is now past 15 books in total.

In truth these are maybe the worst Rebus novels but they serve as a useful introduction to John Rebus. They also go to show how a writer gets better over time.

Book 1 "Knots and Crosses" follows Rebus as he tries to catch a serial killer. The storyline is very simple and the text is also simple compared to Rankin's later novels. Nevertheless it is a useful introduction to the ch
Knots & Crosses:
This being the first in the Detective Rebus series of novels you have a choice of expectations before you start reading. You can 1) expect it to be a bit awkward with some amount of growing pain throughout, but showing enough promise to warrant another book as a second chance to see if that promise can be fulfilled, or 2) expect a well composed, engaging book that keeps you interested from start to finish.

I expected #2 and got #1, which made for tough sledding to get through
Nicholas Whyte[return][return]Knots and Crosses: The first Rebus book introduces us to our hero, who has a Past - two Pasts, in fact: a traumatic military experience in the SAS, and a failed marriage. The two collide in spectacular fashion; it's not so much a detective novel as a psychological account of Rebus working through his own experiences. Both Rankin and Rebus also seem to have a fascination with the intersection between police procedurality and media manipula ...more
In the case of the Millenium series, I am waiting to read them so that I can savour them over time. In the case of the Early Years, I am not sure I will read the next 2, even though they are in the same volume and from the library. I am used to gritty crime, but this book left me feeling like I needed a wash. I think it's because it's so close to the copper's life. Why that should be a problem, I don't know, but I will take a break and see how I feel about the others, if I, in fact, read them.

After three books I'm getting to know Inspector Rebus. I do remember why I like women writers better, but Rankin joins the list of OK authors when I need one i.e. while I wait for one my own to finish the next book in her series ;-)
Mara Eastern
An excellent example of quality tartan noir. Bleakly comic and slightly chilling.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I think I have a thing for mysteries featuring gloomy, divorced, middle-aged detectives who are seeking to restore relationships with their only daughter. Also, they are all loose cannons - but smarter then everyone around them. I love the Scottsman Rebus, the Swede Kurt Wallender (Henning Mankell), and Harry Bosch of LA (Michael Connelly). Quality, engrossing writing all.
Michele Weiner
This series is promising. It follows the form of the police procedural mystery very well, although in the early books, Rankin is less amusing, less interesting, less political, less charming than the Swedish masters of the genre. I am still reading, and I think there is hope for this young man!!!
I should remember - too much of any author in too short a time does not make for an impressive experience (had the same problem with Neal Stephenson). I like the character of Rebus, but he's probably best served over a long period of time, rather than in back-to-back novels.
I can say I'm biast as I'm a great fan of Rankin's books. This one is the first 3 so sets the seen for the rest of the series. I find his book so easy to read and always have a great plot and description, well worth a read if you've not read any of the Rebus books.
For good, contemporary British mystery-crime novels, Ian Rankin is outstanding. I read all of the Inspector Rebus books and was seriously bummed when he ended the series with his last book, Exit Music. Such great reads!
While reading the first novel in the series I wasn't sure that I much liked this author but by the second and third I was enjoying them. Will probably be reading more of Ian Rankin.
Very enjoyable start to the series of Rebus books. I'm only giving it 3 stars in anticipation that the later books get even better.
Mysteries are my fall-back genre. These are set in Scotland, and Detective Inspector Rebus is an interesting character. I'll read more.
Katharine Eves
If you like mysteries, Rebus is a great start, just remember to visualise a scottish accent as you read
Monsters X
First two are great, tooth and nail aren't isnt as strong, so i knocked a star off the collection
Love Rebus, Love Rankin. Atmospheric, stylish, noir, compulsively readable, and finely written.
The length and pace of these stories is perfect for someone on the go.
Mar 07, 2010 Liza added it
Knots and crosses by Ian Rankin (2005)
Anthony Corlett
some of the best Rebus stories.
Lorraine Wagner
Aug 13, 2012 Lorraine Wagner is currently reading it
Finished it -- good read
Gareth marked it as to-read
Apr 12, 2015
Christina West
Christina West marked it as to-read
Apr 12, 2015
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AKA Jack Harvey.

Born in the Kingdom of Fife in 1960, Ian Rankin graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1982 and then spent three years writing novels when he was supposed to be working towards a PhD in Scottish Literature. His first Rebus novel was published in 1987; the Rebus books are now translated into 22 languages and are bestsellers on several continents.

Ian Rankin has been elected a
More about Ian Rankin...

Other Books in the Series

Inspector Rebus (1 - 10 of 20 books)
  • Knots and Crosses (Inspector Rebus, #1)
  • Hide and Seek (Inspector Rebus, #2)
  • Tooth and Nail (Inspector Rebus, #3)
  • Strip Jack (Inspector Rebus, #4)
  • The Black Book (Inspector Rebus, #5)
  • Mortal Causes (Inspector Rebus, #6)
  • Let it Bleed (Inspector Rebus, #7)
  • Black and Blue (Inspector Rebus, #8)
  • The Hanging Garden (Inspector Rebus, #9)
  • Dead Souls (Inspector Rebus, #10)
Knots and Crosses (Inspector Rebus, #1) Exit Music (Inspector Rebus, #17) Black and Blue (Inspector Rebus, #8) Hide and Seek (Inspector Rebus, #2) Let it Bleed (Inspector Rebus, #7)

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