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Knots and Crosses (Inspector Rebus #1)

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  20,513 ratings  ·  921 reviews
Detective 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, Rebus ...more
Paperback, 257 pages
Published September 16th 2008 by Minotaur Books (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
Lewis Weinstein
Many detective stories start out with a bang. Something dramatic happens. "Knots and Crosses," Rankin's first Rebus novel, and maybe his first novel altogether, is not that way. After 50+ pages, still not much had happened.

Most detective novels alternate scenes of tension and scenes of relief. Not this one. When the tension finally starts to build, it continues on an unrelenting screaming frightening path to the end of the story.

I guess you can tell I enjoyed the read. That's all I'm going to sa
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
Apr 18, 2015 Alondra rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mystery/Thriller Readers
Recommended to Alondra by: Bill
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!
The first problem with this book is the unlikable main character. Rebus is supposed to be suffering from PTSD because of trauma he experienced during his Special Services training. That's right. He was so damaged during TRAINING that he never actually served in Special Services, but he gets all kinds of respect from his fellow cops because of his Special Services background - which is pretty weird since the symptoms of his PTSD makes him a pretty lousy cop. And, oh yeah, another symptom is that ...more
Cameron Wiggins
I love United Kingdom thrillers, especially Irish thrillers, but this was my first thriller set in Scotland, Edinburg, to be precise. There are NO SPOILERS HERE. This is the first book in the John Rebus police procedural series, and Rankin did not disappoint. Rankin has put forth a first-rate police chase story that is hard to put aside, yet often leaves the reader wondering why he or she likes the book. It can be as karst and gloomy as the Edinburg weather, yet Rankin’s story is so gripping.
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
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
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
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
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
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
Luffy Monkey D.
I have very little to say about this book. The major aspect that stuck to me was how, early in the book, the writer made us care and take sides via the sexual shenanigans of the few main characters. Rebus, Stevens, and Gill. I'm grateful that the faithfully present mob boss of future books isn't here. The book almost played to my disapproval...of flashbacks and endings in thrillers. Both necessary evils were not too long.

To conclude I must say that the suffering and violence in this book is v
Jessica Howard
I accidentally read the 18th of Rankin's Rebus mysteries first. So this book was a bit odd, since Rebus was about 20 years younger, and his personal life was a huge part of the book, greatly unlike The Naming of the Dead where his family was scarcely mentioned. It was a pretty good book though, a bit far-fetched to be sure, but Rebus is still a likeable character. The basic premise of this book involves Rebus simultaneously struggling in his relationship with his ex-wife and daughter, finding a ...more
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
I have to read more Scottish authors so I decided to start with the first in the series of Rebus crime novels. Rankin originally planned this as a one off and not a series, so he was roughly plotting not planning.

Two young girls have been found strangled in the environs of Edinburgh, messages and knots start arriving at the flat of John Rebus. Dour Scot Detective John Rebus is investigating but also fighting with suppressed memories of his time in the SAS. Rebus is a Christian, divorcee with a 1
This is the first John Rebus novel, and his character is not fully fleshed out. But it is a well-crafted novel, and will keep you reading long past bedtime.
Charlotte (Buried in Books)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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2015 Reading Chal...: Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin 1 7 Mar 22, 2015 09:48PM  
2015 Reading Chal...: 1987 - Knots & Crosses 1 18 Jan 14, 2015 05:48PM  
English Mysteries...: February 2014 - Knots and Crosses 38 113 Feb 25, 2014 04:35PM  
Rebus 16 147 Jan 12, 2014 02:37PM  
Rachel & Rach...: Knots and Crosses 2 12 Apr 25, 2012 06:19AM  
  • The Hanging Valley (Inspector Banks, #4)
  • Cold Granite (Logan McRae, #1)
  • The Wire In The Blood (Tony Hill & Carol Jordan, #2)
  • A Clubbable Woman (Dalziel & Pascoe, #1)
  • Natural Causes (Inspector McLean, #1)
  • The Wench Is Dead (Inspector Morse, #8)
  • Lonely Hearts (Charlie Resnick, #1)
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)
  • 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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