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Knots and Crosses (Inspector Rebus #1)

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  28,070 Ratings  ·  1,299 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, 228 pages
Published December 15th 1995 by St. Martin's Paperbacks (first published 1987)
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Gemma Tombs Absolutely. I'm about to start re-reading again (for the fifth or sixth time). Although the individual mysteries technically stand alone, there are…moreAbsolutely. I'm about to start re-reading again (for the fifth or sixth time). Although the individual mysteries technically stand alone, there are several key players in the Edinburgh 'crime world' whose presence becomes increasingly threatening throughout the series. You won't really get a sense of the Rebus world unless you read them in order, at least the first few and the last few. The ones in the middle, it probably doesn't matter as much.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Dan Schwent
Dec 23, 2014 Dan Schwent rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
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
Knots and Crosses: John Rebus and the Book of Job

“Job, actually. I read it once a long time ago. It seems more frightening now though. The man who begins to doubt, who shouts out against his God, looking for a response, and who gets one. ‘God gave the world to the wicked,’ he says at one point, and ‘Why should I bother?’ at another.”

“It sounds interesting. But he goes on bothering?”

“Yes, that’s the incredible thing.”

Conversation between Detective Sergeant John Rebus and Detective Inspector Gil
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...
Jun 03, 2016 Erato rated it really liked it
3/5 που γίνονται 4 μονο και μονο γιατι βλεπουμε κ μαθαίνουμε για τον γερό-Ρεμπους (πια) στα νιάτα του.
* Καμία φορά εχει πλάκα να παίρνεις τη σειρα αντίστροφα :)
Lewis Weinstein
May 12, 2013 Lewis Weinstein rated it it was amazing
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
Andrew Smith
Nov 18, 2014 Andrew Smith rated it really liked it
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
I've seen Ian Rankin books all over airports, bookstores, libraries, best seller lists since I was first out of college and have never picked one up. Probably for the same reason I never picked up a Lawrence Block book. Big mistake, but now I have many more in the Detective John Rebus series left to read. I like Rankin's style, very moody and somewhat dark, although other reviews I've read says he lightens up quite a bit in later novels. Considering this series is still going strong almost 30 ye ...more
Oct 01, 2008 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Aug 24, 2012 Tfitoby rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-as-night
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
aPriL does feral sometimes
'Knots and Crosses' is an entertaining psychological/police procedural. It also is book one, first published in 1987, in the long-running Inspector Rebus series. I highly recommend it.

Detective Sergeant John Rebus works in Edinburgh, Scotland with a love/hate obsession for his job with the police. Rebus wants to quit drinking and smoking, too, but so far he has failed in those goals. He certainly is a man of faults, and some might think him becoming burned out. But one thing he still possesses -
ConstantReader Paul O'Neill
I found this to be disappointing fare. Rebus, the character was likeable, and the location (which, for the most part for me is right next door) was good and realistic. Pacing was good, story was ok.

My problem with this is the fact that Rebus doesn't seem to be that great a cop. There was a lack of 'cop work' within this book also. Rebus could've easily been a random member of the public and it wouldn't have made a difference to the plot.

Compared to the high standard of Connelly and Baldacci, t
Apr 03, 2008 Dfordoom rated it liked it
Shelves: crime-mystery
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
Ross Cumming
Sep 20, 2016 Ross Cumming rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my first foray into Rankin's Rebus series and what better place to start than at the very beginning. I have put off reading them for several years as I normally prefer American crime fiction, as being an ex-Scottish Police officer myself I am usually easily put off if the procedural aspect of novels varies too much from real life.
In this the first of the series we are introduced to Detective Sergeant John Rebus of Edinburgh C.I.D. who is a complex character to say the least. An ex- Spec
Jan 07, 2016 Barbara rated it liked it
Detective Sergeant John Rebus joined the Edinburgh police force 15 years ago, after leaving the special forces unit of the British Army (SAS). Rebus is a solid cop, respected (if not quite liked) by his superiors. As the story unfolds we learn that Rebus's brutal SAS training left him profoundly troubled, so that he drinks too much, has a failed marriage behind him, and has a somewhat distant relationship with his young teenage daughter Samantha.

When a serial killer starts murdering young girls
Mar 28, 2015 Clarice rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-books
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
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
Aug 04, 2012 Mark Rubinstein rated it really liked it
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
An Odd1
Jul 02, 2011 An Odd1 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, fan
"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
Stephanie Swint
This could have been so much more. The concept or story is fantastic. I wanted to like it. I started out liking it. Unfortunately, as the story went on I noticed where it should have been amazing and wasn’t. ‘Knots and Crosses’ wasn’t bad, but it fell far short of its potential. This means it will probably be made into a much better movie. There is a solid mystery set in Edinburgh here. It has some true twists and interesting characters. Who doesn’t like a main character whose father and brother ...more
Nov 10, 2009 Tony rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 02, 2013 Alondra rated it liked it
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!
Tom Mathews
This is an excellent beginning to the John Rebus series. I look forward to reading more of them.
Dec 22, 2016 Miloš rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-books
At the beginning it was a bit slow read, but very soon it picked up the pace. At the end really enjoyable read.
I have been reading a lot non-fiction lately; my plan was to devote the entire November to non-fiction. However I got a little run down and found myself in need of some mindless fiction. I picked up Knots and Crosses, the first book in the Inspector Rebus by Ian Rankin. While writing my review of Dexter is Dead, I felt the need to find a new crime series to read through, but I have particular taste; I want something with an interesting protagonist and an overarching story arc. I have heard some ...more
Jane Stewart
Jul 09, 2012 Jane Stewart rated it did not like it
Shelves: crime-mystery
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's great fun to read the inaugural adventure of Edinburgh's dubiously venerable copper John Rebus. In terms of a good whodunit, this was a bit over the top- secret paramilitary ops, repressed memory, little girls vanishing in the thick, damp Scottish air, sweaty hook-ups and always, always too many cigarettes and whisky chasers. But it was good to have a context for Rebus, a beginning that shed more light on his past.

This was published the year I graduated from high school, so the technology,
Mal Warwick
Feb 02, 2017 Mal Warwick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
John Rebus makes his debut as a Detective Sergeant in the Edinburgh police in Knots and Crosses. He’s been on the force for fifteen years following a decorated career in the British Army and, for a time, in the original special forces unit, the Special Air Service. He’s a disagreeable sort, disliked by most of his colleagues. His superiors tolerate him because he’s proven to be such a good detective.

It’s thatJ reputation as a skilled investigator that leads to his being assigned to the task forc
"There are clues everywhere, for those who read between the times."

I bought Knots and Crosses for one reason, my dad. He's read the Rebus books for a while now and I've bought him a few over the years. Then it dawned on me that Ian Rankin is one of the biggest names in UK crime fiction and I've never ever read a book...and I call myself a crime fiction fan!

John Rebus is a tortured soul, why? Only time will tell but his marriage failed and he fell out of love with the army. And now he's got to f
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Mysteries & Crime...: BOTM June - Knots and crosses 21 54 Jun 19, 2016 10:24AM  
2015 Reading Chal...: Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin 1 13 Mar 22, 2015 09:48PM  
2017 Reading Chal...: 1987 - Knots & Crosses 1 25 Jan 14, 2015 05:48PM  
English Mysteries...: February 2014 - Knots and Crosses 38 119 Feb 25, 2014 04:35PM  
Rebus 16 152 Jan 12, 2014 02:37PM  
Rachel & Rachel R...: Knots and Crosses 2 14 Apr 25, 2012 06:19AM  
  • Cold Granite (Logan McRae, #1)
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  • Aftermath (Inspector Banks, #12)
  • A Killing Kindness (Dalziel & Pascoe, #6)
  • The Last Detective (Peter Diamond, #1)
  • Lonely Hearts (Charlie Resnick, #1)
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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 21 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)

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