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Knots & Crosses

(Inspector Rebus #1)

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  44,175 ratings  ·  2,104 reviews
‘And in Edinburgh of all places. I mean, you never think of that sort of thing happening in Edinburgh, do you...?’
That sort of thing... is the brutal abduction and murder of two young girls. And now a third is missing, presumably gone to the same sad end. Detective Sargeant John Rebus, smoking and drinking too much, his own young daughter spirited away south by his disench
Paperback, 226 pages
Published January 1st 1998 by Orion (first published 1987)
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Gemma Absolutely. I'm about to start re-reading again (for the fifth or sixth time). Although the individual mysteries technically stand alone, there are se…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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Kylie D
I first read this book many years ago, along with many others in the series, then lost touch with them, so I decided to revisit it from the start. In this novel we are introduced to the then DS Rebus, a flawed, very human character, who readers can instantly relate to, which is probably the main reason for the popularity of this series. Though not as polished as the later books in the series, it is still immensely readable, and gives us a great background to Rebus, and an insight into his person ...more
Dan Schwent
Dec 23, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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

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
James Tivendale
"These tourists spent so much time photographing things that they never actually saw anything, unlike the young people milling around, who were too busy enjoying life to be bothered capturing false impressions of it."

At the moment my TV viewing is mainly made up of watching detective thrillers. Sherlock, True Detective, Midsomer Murders, Father Brown, etc... When I really enjoy watching a series I sometimes decide to check out the books to see how close they are to what I've viewed and because
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
Andrew Smith
Nov 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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: 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 G
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
Feb 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my first time reading a book by Ian Rankin. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it definitely delivered. It’s not so much a police procedural as it is a character study.

John Rebus is a Detective Sergeant in Edinburgh. He is a complex character, and the book provides an in-depth portrayal of him. We see how he fits into his environment at home and at work, how he relates to family, friends, and co-workers, and how his past haunts him. There is a period of time that Rebus keeps stored in a b
Jul 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Love the troubled Inspector Rebus... Great series. Read this in 2011, wow!
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
Aug 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Knots and Crosses" was first published in 1987 and is a crime novel. It is the first of the Inspector Rebus novels. It was written while Rankin was a postgraduate student at the University of Edinburgh.

This edition of the book was given out as part of a subscription, one of a series of 'Banned Books' produced exclusively for the Independent newspaper and is book 20 in the series done to try and promote reading.
Detective John Rebus was trying to catch the killer of young girls – he would abduct them and not long after, the body of the girl would be found, brutally murdered, but never sexually assaulted. Rebus was also receiving strange and bizarre notes that he had no clue about. He wondered if it was his ex-wife messing around but wasn’t to realise it had everything to do with him and a past he no longer remembered.

Rebus had once been in the elite SAS prior to becoming a police officer. He tried to s
Oct 01, 2008 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
Knots and Crosses (Inspector Rebus, #1) by Ian Rankin.

This was my first taste of Inspector Rebus, but it most definitely won't be my last!

Rebus is not an unusual character. He has his strong points which I found to be in enduring until the case is solved. At the same time he's a vulnerable person with weak points. Weak points caused by something in the past he's trying desperately to forget or at least cram into a closet and lock it shut forever.
The first little girl goes missing and later is f
Oct 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in Edinburgh Scotland less a police procedural more a therapy session.
Written in 1987, typewriters and post-its. No internet or cell phones.
Book #1 Inspector Rebus, #23 came out this year.

We are introduced to John Rebus a detective with a whole lotta baggage.
This was more about Rebus's PTSD and his personal life.
The dialogue was awkward at times just like John Rebus is with women.
'He would awake crying some nights, and sometimes would weep as he made love.' -John
Like i said awkward.
A good
Michael Robotham
Apr 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful to go back and discover the beginnings of John Rebus. I was incredibly impressed with Ian Rankin's writings, particularly given that he was only 25 years old when he wrote Knots and Crosses. The plotting is a little clumsy and Rankin has become much more sophisticated in this area. Here, he was learning. He became a master.
Mar 28, 2015 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
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
Simona B

I most surely did not expect to be so pleasantly surprised by this book. Ian Rankin shows, throughout the novel, an uncanny ability to lift the veil of one's everyday thoughts and perceptions to reveal a somewhat twisted reality lying underneath, like a lurking beast of prey, and he does it subtly enugh, thoughtfully enoough, to convince me he is no mere hireling. So are you thinking to dive into Knots and Crosses and find just the umpteenth copy-and-paste thriller novel? Forget that.

With th
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 -
Aug 24, 2012 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
Joseph Delaney
Jun 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have been re-visiting the Rebus novels, this time starting at the very beginning and working my way through them mostly in the order that they were written. Prior to this, I’d read about a quarter of the books but I am reading those again because I know that I’ll enjoy them.
My test of a good book is that it can be read and enjoyed more than once. This series passes that test; they are all five star books.
I read for enjoyment and mostly confine myself to my favourite genres: fantasy, science
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
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
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
Deb Jones
Aug 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this introduction to Detective Sargent Rebus, the police are investigating the abduction and murders of four young girls who seemingly have nothing in common to connect them to each other, or to a potential suspect. Rebus is brought in to the expanded team after the first two bodies are found.

In the meantime, Rebus is dealing with much more personal demons: a military past that haunts him, a daughter that he gets to visit according to the divorce visitation schedule, and the receipt of severa
Sep 15, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not bad but the later books in the series are much better. Still you can see the potential. :)
Sebastien Castell
The problem with great mystery series – you know, the ones everybody cites when the subject of writers whose depth and skill elevates the books beyond simple commercial crime fiction – is that when you come to the first book with expectations that are too high. That was the case for me with Ian Rankin's Knots and Crosses.

It's a good first book, but that word, "first", carries with it a number of consequences that you don't consider when you know its the beginning of an incredibly successful and
Michelle F
Knowing that Ian Rankin is one of Scotland's prized literary exports, I am currently reserving full judgment. I have the first three Rebus stories in an omnibus, and I know that introductory novels often pale once in the shadow of succeeding efforts.

At first glance, though, Knots and Crosses was remarkable only in the ways that it didn't impress me. Rebus seems like a collection of flaws and little else (though, unlike many readers it seems, I like the small out-of-place refinements of music and
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Need a new series to read 4 16 Jun 12, 2020 10:42PM  
Classic Trash: Knots and Crosses: In Progress (No Spoilers) 4 11 Mar 11, 2020 08:51AM  
What is "reset" in Rankin's Rebus series? 1 11 Sep 25, 2019 12:50PM  
Play Book Tag: Knots and Crosses / Ian Rankin - 3*** 1 15 Jun 24, 2017 06:06AM  
Crime, Mysteries ...: Knots and Crosses - June 2016 21 62 Jun 19, 2016 10:24AM  
2015 Reading Chal...: Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin 1 14 Mar 22, 2015 09:48PM  

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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

Other books in the series

Inspector Rebus (1 - 10 of 23 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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