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Knots and Crosses (Inspector Rebus #1)

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  19,296 ratings  ·  861 reviews
'A gripping and sinister tale... The plot is complicated as is the author's exploration into the psychology of guilt, revenge and fear'

Independent 'Tough and authentic-sounding thriller... unlikely to be endorsed by the Scottish Tourist Board, but highly recommended to anyone weary of the tartan'

Literary Review Once John Rebus was a Para, served in the elite SAS. Now he'

Hardcover, 182 pages
Published August 4th 1987 by Doubleday (first published 1987)
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Dan Schwent
Girls are being kidnapped and murdered around Edinburgh and John Rebus is on the case. But what, if anything, do the disappearances have to do with bizarre letters Rebus has been getting in the post?

The mother-in-law of the owner of my favorite used bookstore has been on my ass for years to give the Inspector Rebus books a shot. When this one turned up during one of my semi-weekly visits, I decided it was time.

This slim volume packs quite a punch. As the first book in a mystery series, it has a
I had low expectations going into this. Being a big fan of Scottish lit, I've always kept Rankin at arms length, thinking that he'd be too pulpy and pop culturey to be worth reading. I'm comfortable enough to own my snobbery.

Lately, though, I've felt Rankin's pull, especially since Henning Mankell's Wallander books reignited my interest in crime fiction. I have a thing for those damaged, brooding, middle aged, drink-too-much detectives, whose world view is so beaten and jaded by what they've se
Tea Jovanović
Legendarni škotski autor krimića čije su knjige doživele sjajne ekranizacije a njegov Rebus proslavio ga je širom sveta... Samo ga kod nas publika ignoriše iako smo teškom mukom obezbedili prava za njegove knjige i objavili čak 4 naslova iz serijala o rebusu...
Soft-boiled crime fiction? Hard-boiled light? Lightly fried with a twist of tarragon?

As the debut of Ian Rankin's Rebus this is a fine book filled with promise.

Rebus is a drunk divorcee formerly of the SAS and now a DS in the Edinburgh police force. There's somebody abducting and killing children and there's no pattern that anyone can see. So far, so cliche. Where Rankin differs from all those other generic modern police procedurals that are oh so popular with the masses is that he doesn't seem
Oct 15, 2008 Emily rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: detective fiction fans
Recommended to Emily by: npr
Shelves: own
I will admit to wanting to read this book in part because I heard the author on NPR about a year ago and he is Scottish and I have a big weakness for Scottish accents. But! In my defense, I was actually intrigued by what he said (and not just how he said it!).

Having finally read the book, I have to say, it was a great read. I realized about a third of the way through that it has been a long time since I've read both an apt and original metaphor and this was chock full of them. Being his first n
Andrew Smith
I first sampled the Rebus series at book 12 (The Falls) and have subsequently read books 8 to 19 (Rankin’s latest) in random order. This hasn’t been a problem, there is a background thread that runs through the series – an army career, a failed marriage and a daughter – but it’s really just background noise to whatever is happening in the current book. This time I decided to go back to the start, to book 1.

The first thing that struck me was how different the style is. The later stories resound
Knots and Crosses is the first of Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus novels, although in this one he’s still Detective-Sergeant Rebus. It’s almost impossible because of the way the plot is structured to say anything meaningful about the story without the rusk of giving away any spoilers. All I’ll say is that Rebus is an ex-army guy now a cop who finds himself involved in the investigation of the kidnapping/murders of several girls in Edinburgh. It’s one of those crime novels that focuses in the detect ...more
I was very excited to read this. I'd been meaning to read Ian Rankin and finding myself in a used bookshop in Inverness finally bought the first two books of the series [I think the shopkeeper was very excited that I wanted to read their own Scottish wonder - he won a main prize last year at the Edinburgh book festival.:]
However found it a little disappointing - straightforward plot [that sounds ridiculous perhaps - because it is requisitely twisty - but in a way that if you've read more than on
An Odd1
"Knots and Crosses" are scraps of string and broken matchsticks in anonymous crank messages to Edinburgh detective John Rebus during a serial kidnapping of girls around 12, his daughter's age. Or is it a tic-tac-toe game? Constantly overcome by memories of elite corps army training, he smokes, drinks, and sleeps around like a 70s divorced lonely dad, until his brother finally hypnotizes him to reveal his bitter past hiding the murderer.

Either I read this before or the suspense builds with our g
Lee Broderick
I was a little disappointed by this book. Ian Rankin's Rebus novels have been widely praised as literary detective fiction. In the introduction to my edition he acknowledges some surprise at this and I agree with him. This was an uncomplicated, character-driven noir with a protagonist that I couldn't care less about.

Perhaps the author's writing improves with later books but here I felt like I was being kept very much at arms length from the narrative. When the plot's so simple (in one of the ear
Mark Rubinstein
Knots and Crosses is the first of Ian Rankin's Inspector Rebus novels. Despite some contrivances and convenient plot devices, it's a fine novel. Rebus is a fascinating character and one gets the feeling in reading this novel (published in 1987) that the author probably was planning a series based on this character.

I understand full well that this series is far more than the usual group police procedural books. It has much more going for it, namely, the complex character of John Rebus. The writi
Kurt Reichenbaugh
I'd read Ian Rankin's Black and Blue some years ago and barely remember it, except that I wasn't so blown away by it that I had to find more. This book was given to me as a freebie and after it sat on a shelf for a couple years I decided to give it a try.

This is the first in the Inspector Rebus series and probably the best place to start with the John Rebus character. He's the textbook flawed character: demon-haunted, drinks too much, divorced, the works. A killer is lurking the streets of Edin
This book is the first of Rankin's series on Inspector Rebus (although he's still a detective sergeant in this outing.) The good news is that if you end up liking this book, you have 16 more to follow up with.

The story involves Rebus, along with most of the available staff, placed on special assignment to investigate the abduction and strangling of young girls in Edinburgh. Rebus is recently divorced, misses his own young daughter and is still recovering from a top-secret training exercise from
It was OK. Not great but I've read much worse too. I think my beef with it is that it was written over 20 years ago and seems dated. (Not obviously dated, like no one has a cell phone) but the plot devices seem dated. Our protagonist has a big blank spot in his memory about his time spent in the SAS and has never given it much thought. (Huh?) A serial killer is sending him clues in the mail, which he also doesn't give much thought too, brushing it off as a crank. (Really??) Then the killer start ...more
Paul Darcy
Well, this is definitely a departure in my reading patterns. This novel, Knots & Crosses by Ian Rankin, is my first dive into the genre of pure detective fiction. And what an exhilarating first plunge - like a swan dive into an empty pool, but in a very good way.

This is the first novel in the long and well known (to those into detective fiction that is) Rebus series. Actually touted on the cover as “Rankin and Rebus” so people like myself will know what to look for on the bookstore shelf. Go
Jane Stewart
Did not finish. Cluttered word usage and I wasn’t drawn to the main character.

I read the first 36% and then the last two chapters. This was the author’s first book. He used the word “had” so often I was cringing. It kept taking me out of the story. It’s cluttered writing. The main character is police detective John Rebus. There are 16 or more books in the series. This book is about a serial killer who kidnaps and strangles young girls. The genre appears to be crime mystery.

As John walks home at
It was oddly appropriate that I read Ian Rankin's Knots and Crosses at this time because, like its hero Inspector Rebus, I have been contending in my mind about the meaning of the Old Testament Book of Job. At one point, he reads from a Bible while in the hospital after having blacked out:
When an innocent man suddenly dies, God laughs.
God gave the world to the wicked.
He made all the judges blind.
And if God didn't do it, who did?
Knots and Crosses is about a serial killer who kills 12-year-old gir
Richard Wright
I've been wanting to get round to Rebus for more than a decade. All the more disappointing then that this opening entry in the series is so pedestrian. For a start, Rebus himself is a stock collage of character defects that have been better used in better books. Choice of music, reliance on booze, dogged persistence... the redeeming feature, of the character rather than the man, is how uninspired a police officer he is at this stage. It was refreshing, to me at least, to encounter so unimpressiv ...more
Charlotte (Buried in Books)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rankin, Ian. KNOTS AND CROSSES. (1987). *****. Rankin is one of the best mystery writers writing today, and this is one of his earlier books that provides more background on his series character, Inspector John Rebus. Rebus is going through a crisis. He is divorced from his wife. He doesn’t get to see his daughter, Samantha, very much – at least not as much as he would like. His police work is getting to him. His past in the SAS keeps coming back to him in chronic outbreaks of mental turmoil. He ...more
I read a couple of Ian Rankin's books a while ago, probably three or four years ago now. This one hadn't faded entirely out of memory, so I didn't find anything too surprising about it. Ian Rankin's own observations about it, in the introduction, about how obviously it's a first novel and how inexperienced he was, are true. It shows sometimes, not that I think it's necessarily bad writing -- just, Ian Rankin is still finding his feet in this book. I might actually have enjoyed it more if I hadn' ...more
Detective John Rebus is a pretty easy guy to ignore as far as his career with the Edinburgh police goes. When someone begins kidnapping and murdering little girls around the city, Rebus is assigned to do the grunt work. But some crank sees Rebus as special enough to keep sending weird letters, which doesn't really bother Rebus but makes his new girlfriend suspicious.
This is the first Rebus mystery, published way back in 1987 and winner of the Golden Dagger Award. It's a very good first novel, w
A serial killer/police procedural thriller wherein young girls are being abducted from the streets of Edinburgh and are later found dead. Inspector Rebus is assigned the case. He also starts receiving anonymous semi threatening letters. He , along with his partner Jack Mort on are at a loss to as the identity of the killer, till events start escalating and things gets linked to his commando past, estranged wife and daughter .
I found it a quick, though average read - the sort of book, which one
Auntie M Graff
Feb 06, 2008 Auntie M Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hard-boiled detective or Scottish mystery fans
The first in Rankin's long-running Rebus series, this hard-boiled detective knows the ins and outs of criminal Edinburgh as no one else, and is not above looking beyond the law to settle his disagreements with the inhabitants of the seamy side of town.
I had the good fortune to interview Rankin in person years ago for "Mystery Scene" magazine, and he is every bit as complicated as his protagonist. Both are hard-drinking, chain smoking guys with a tough, cynical eye of the world, although Rankin
Felix Zilich
“Tartan noir” - нуар по-шотландски. Без вереска, волынок и треклятого килта с тартанами, но зато про извечную борьбу добра и зла в человеческой душе, про грехи тяжкие и мучительное искупление, про социальные недуги и дурную наследственность. А также про то, что обычно называют “каледонийской антисизигией”. Это когда противоположности настолько притягиваются, что неизбежно тянут друг друга на дно.

Первый классический “тартановый” нуар - “Странная история доктора Джекила и мистера Хайда” и этот фа
Set in Edinburgh, 1985, this is the first novel featuring Detective Sergeant John Rebus. In the tradition of flawed detectives, he is divorced and has a stilted relationship with his daughter, Sammy and a distant one with his only brother, Michael. Living in a flat, his mattress on the floor and books piled all around him, Rebus is a rather grumpy character who both drinks and smokes too much. Leaving the army (specifically the SAS Special Assignment Group) he has had a breakdown before joining ...more
Chuck Slack
I loved this book. I started this book with some trepidation as my wife said "you will like this one". There have been previous recommendations that have not been well received. Redemption! I have a new series to read. A new lead character, Rebus, to identify with, enjoy, and commiserate. Rankin's depiction of the touristy side and underbelly of Edinburgh was well done. Story development is well paced. I highly recommend it.
I enjoyed this first in the series, featuring John Rebus a policeman in Edinburgh. While working on a current murder investigation, Rebus becomes increasing haunted by his past as a member of an elite military group called SAS. Rebus begins to suspect that this murderer is somehow tied to him, but his memories are blocked. The author has developed interesting and complex characters, and an intriguing plot.
Jan 08, 2015 Alondra rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mystery/Thriller Readers
Recommended to Alondra by: Bill
Shelves: books-i-own
3.5 Stars

What a great read. I have a new series to read.

Inspector Rebus is my kind of guy, quite complex, quite no-nonsense with a little danger and mischievousness. I loved the twists and turns and getting much of his background beforehand; but I know there will be much more as I delve into the series.

Thank you, Bill for your recommendation!
In Edinburgh verschwinden kleine Mädchen und werden hinterher tot aufgefunden. Fieberhaft ermittelt die Polizei, denn die Bürger verlangen eine Verhaftung. Zeitgleich bekommt John Rebus, rätselhafte Briefe, mit mysteriösen Hinweisen. Doch der Polizist ist zu sehr mit seinem kaputten Leben beschäftigt, um zu erkennen, dass der Täter ihn kennt und mit den Briefen Hinweise zu den Mädchen liefert. Erst als Johns Tochter Opfer des Wahnsinnigen wird, kramt er in seiner Vergangenheit, die er eigentlich ...more
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2015 Reading Chal...: 1987 - Knots & Crosses 1 16 Jan 14, 2015 05:48PM  
English Mysteries...: February 2014 - Knots and Crosses 38 112 Feb 25, 2014 04:35PM  
Rebus 16 146 Jan 12, 2014 02:37PM  
Rachel & Rach...: Knots and Crosses 2 12 Apr 25, 2012 06:19AM  
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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 19 books)
  • 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)
  • Set in Darkness (Inspector Rebus, #11)
Exit Music (Inspector Rebus, #17) Black and Blue (Inspector Rebus, #8) Hide and Seek (Inspector Rebus, #2) Let it Bleed (Inspector Rebus, #7) The Complaints

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