Knots and Crosses (Inspector John Rebus Series #1)

Knots and Crosses (Inspector John Rebus Series #1)

by Ian Rankin


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Knots and Crosses 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 38 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was bored. I was in Edinburgh for the day, following up on my own Scottish research interests, when shuffling along Princess Street, I found a bookshop with an interesting Ian Rankin display. The marketers would be proud. Their 'dark' book covers, enticed me into the store and to the crime section. I wanted something to read while passing the time in Edinburgh, waiting for my meeting as well as something to pass the time on the hour-long train ride back to Glasgow. After several years of visiting, I wanted to get to know the true Scotland. An old research tool, read 'the literature' generated from homegrown authors. I picked up Knots and Crosses, not realizing that this was the second in Rebus series. I found a nearby coffee shop and dived right in. I blanched at Rankin's descriptive powers. I kept looking up and about Princess Street, the Castle, and Scott Monument. Were these 'true-life' depictions of the city before me? I have lived in Washington, DC and I know about 'crime'. Edinburgh began to shed its' tourist skin. I was so engrossed that I almost missed my bus to my meeting. As the bus drove around Edinburgh, I began to view it through Rebus's eyes, his Edinburgh. Rankin molded the plot, the backdrop, wonderfully. My heart ached as I saw Rebus trying to exorcise his own demons, while untangling the puzzles, left virtually on his doorstep. I was a virtual 'fly on the wall', unobtrusive spirit, looking over Rebus shoulder, wondering where he would go and do next. I saw the 'grit, the dirt of Edinburgh.' Here was an author that didn't sugar coat fiction. I realized this was a series I needed to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A ride from Chapter 1 all the way through to the Epilogue. Throughly enjoyable. Hooked on the series
KenCady More than 1 year ago
Having read most of the Inspector Rebus novels except this one, it was nice to see where it all started. The first novel reads like many of the others, as the Rebus personality takes shape. Sad to note that he was such a lush from the beginning. If there is anything I didn't like about the Rebus books, it was all the boozing. Too much for me. Otherwise, I enjoyed the Edinburgh setting, a postcard view that we see as tourists hiding all those blemishes. Rankin creates great characters, many of whom I'd love to have a cup of tea with. From start to finish, if Exit Music is the finish, Ian Rankin has created a series of which he can be proud. A toast to you, Sir.
mahallett on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
i listened to this and missed a lot so i decided to read it because the series is so famous. this was just so improbable and the character so drunk and peculiar that i couldn't get into it. so little attention paid to the 3 girls who died for absolutely nothing,
nbmars on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There are some mysteries you read because they are the only things available in the airport gift shop and you are desperate; then there are those that rise above the designation of ¿airplane book¿ and are more aptly considered ¿crime novels.¿ Ian Rankin¿s books fall into the latter category.I ordered this book from the library because I had won a couple of Ian Rankin books featuring Inspector Rebus, but I do have an obsessive need to start at the beginning of a series. Knots and Crosses is Book One of the Inspector Rebus series. (The series begins with Knots & Crosses published in 1987, and ends with Exit Music published in 2007.) I¿m so glad I read this first book; it¿s very good, and gives a lot of background on Rebus that one might be glad to have later on in the series. And how can you not feel favorably disposed toward a book with the epigraph ¿To Miranda, without whom nothing is worth finishing.¿John Rebus is a 41-year-old Detective Sergeant of the Great London Road police station in Edinburgh, Scotland. Formerly, he was one of the elite Special Air Service (a special forces regiment of the British Army) ¿ a sort of Delta Force - but left after some kind of nervous breakdown, the circumstances surrounding which he has repressed. It has haunted his life however, and probably contributed to the break-up of his marriage. He sees his eleven-year-old daughter Samantha periodically, but interaction with her is awkward; in part, it is because she is a teenaged girl with very different interests than his own, and in part, it is because he is a loner, and a troubled man.Rebus¿s character is flawed in most interesting ways. To start with, he smokes and drinks to excess and tends to flout authority, but those traits are almost de rigueur these days for detectives in novels. But he has more unusual eccentricities as well: he has occasional bouts of kleptomania; flashbacks to his SAS training that can cause outbreaks of tears or even misdirected violent behavior; and an obsession with Christian guilt and the possibility of redemption.As the story begins, someone is strangling little girls about Samantha¿s age. The police are working around the clock to catch the killer before he strikes again.Rebus, putting in very long hours, mulls over the case as he straggles home each night from the station, wondering where the killer might be hiding:"Edinburgh slept on, as it had slept on for hundreds of years. There were ghosts in the cobbled alleys and on the twisting stairways of the Old Town tenements, but they were Enlightenment ghosts, articulate and deferential. They were not about to leap from the darkness with a length of twine ready in their hands.¿I love the depiction of Edinburgh as having Enlightenment ghosts.Tension builds, and Rankin adds some very clever twists. The question of course is how many girls will die before Rebus and his colleagues can solve the mystery.Evaluation: I did not anticipate the denouement at all, although I¿m generally rather dense anyway when it comes to mysteries. But even had I done so, I still would have enjoyed the journey. This is not a book of "cheap thrills," but there is sufficient tension and interesting characterization to keep you reading until late at night. Rankin is the recipient of four Crime Writers' Association Dagger Awards including the prestigious Diamond Dagger in 2005. In 2004, he won America's the Edgar Award for Resurrection Men. He has also been short-listed for the Edgar and Anthony Awards in the USA, and won Denmark's Palle Rosenkrantz Prize, the French Grand Prix du Roman Noir and the Deutscher Krimipreis.I found him to be an intelligent writer; I definitely want to continue with the Inspector Rebus series!
ImBookingIt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Interesting-- for the first half of the book, I thought it was more of a character study than a mystery. That was OK, I like books that are primarily about characters. In the second half of the book, many seemingly extraneous details tied in to the murder, as the character picture and the mystery filled in together.
Darrol on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Maybe it is because I am an American, therefore I identify better with trauma of the Vietnam vet like Henry Bosch (Michael Connelly) rather than the trauma of anti-IRA training--but this book seemed a little too melodramatic for my tastes. Does every city have its underground (literally) reality?
bcquinnsmom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Knots and Crosses is the John Rebus series intro. Rebus is a DS in Edinburgh and could quite easily serve as the poster child for angst-ridden policemen. Of course, he has reason for being this way: he¿s divorced, has a child from who he has become a bit alienated, has recurring nightmares back to the time he was with SAS, and has kept all of this buried within. In this installment of the series, Rebus is assigned to work on a case in which two young girls have been abducted and afterwards killed. At the same time, Rebus is receiving some really bizarre mail: either pieces of knotted string or crosses made from matchsticks. When a crisis arises having to do with his daughter, Rebus is nearly pushed to the edge and realizes that his unspoken (and mentally blocked) past contains answers to the present. The book is well written; this one is really more character driven than plot driven and at times you may become a little annoyed that so much of Rankin's internal torment spills out on to the pages. But it's really quite necessary here, so hang in there. As always in the first book in a series, the main character's personality is not quite yet fully developed, so I'm waiting to see if Rebus is less angst ridden as the series progresses. The supporting characters are portrayed well, and I love Rankin's plotting. I'd recommend this book to people who enjoy mysteries from the UK, and to anyone who hasn't yet ventured into this series. Overall, quite a good start to the series. And since I have quite a few more by this author on my shelves, I know I'll be back.
Romonko on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Like Edinburgh itself. John Rebus is very much a child of Edinburgh and the mystic highlands. This is the first book in the John Rebus series, and it's a good one. We get a good introduction to John Rebus, and the dark side of his character. I have seen some of these done on television, and I was really looking forward to beginning this series. It did not disappoint. It is easy to see why Rankin won the Gold Dagger and the Edgar prizes with this book. There is a lot of power in his writing, and he builds a good plot too. I am looking forward to reading more of John Rebus, and I will be prepared for more dark and brooding prose.
invisiblelizard on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have to admit¿being a Yank, an America, one of those¿that I didn't realize the significance of the title until I was well into it. We call it Tic-Tac-Toe out here, a name that is relatively meaningless, and I believe I like "Noughts and Crosses" much better since it actually represents the characters being played. Also, it would have let me in on the clever play-on-words that is this title.I was recommended this book by a salesman who calls me every once in a while at work to see if I would like to purchase his products (I never have) and I assumed he was just being friendly (which he usually is); however when I looked it up at the local bookstore, something about it reminded me of a series of books I read when I was a kid, mysteries by Lawrence Sanders (the Deadly Sin books). So even though this wasn't the sort of thing I'm reading now, for some reason I decided to pick it up anyway, and I was pleasantly surprised when I sat down to read it.First of all, I was intrigued by the setting. My work has afforded me the opportunity to visit Edinburgh and the surrounding area a couple times in the past year, and I really love that place. Something about it reminds me of the American Midwest (if the America Midwest had a big-ass castle in the middle of it). Reading a book set in the same city captivated me. Perhaps if I wasn't as familiar, or enthralled, by the setting, I wouldn't have enjoyed it as much.Second, the writing wasn't half-bad. This was one of Rankin's first books, and I've read in reviews that his style has matured since then, but even still it is not written with the usual clichés that I'm used to. I found that refreshing. His prose has a nice flow to it that, while not Dickens, is many steps up from the drivel that passes for pulp mystery fiction these days (it seems).His character, Inspector Rebus, is well-rounded, not a 100% good guy, just enough darkness under the covers to make him interesting. I think I would like to read more about him in future books, perhaps read them in chronological order to see how Rankin's writing style evolves. Here, Rebus is crass and sharp, sometimes a jerk, sometimes a good cop and a caring father as well.About the only thing I didn't like about this story was the plot, which ended up being a little too choppy (looking for the right word, here) as we're strung along by the unusual Macguffin of these knots and crosses, which happen to be sent to Rebus and would lead any imbecile (except most of characters in the first 2/3rds of this novel) to realize that he was somehow connected to the killer. It's almost as if Rankin doesn't really know what he wants to write about as he's working his way though this story. Maybe that's true. It was one of his first books, after all. Perhaps the rest get a little more organized. This one was good enough as is for me to want to find out.
Joybee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Young girls are being kidnapped and killed, Rebus's brother is involved in drug trafficking, Rebus is getting strange letters from an unknown person. Rebus will have to unlock memories of his past to catch the killer
LisaMaria_C on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I did finish this and it passed quickly--but then I do enjoy stories set in Britain by British authors, so this does bias me towards this serial killer police procedural set in Edinburgh, Scotland, and the setting was evocatively rendered. The style wasn't strong however--the author can't hold a point of view to save his life, and I even picked up slips in tense. I didn't care for the detective protagonist, John Rebus at all and given the story is more a character study of him than a mystery, that did affect my enjoyment. He's not much of a husband, brother or father (or a detective) and his distance from those around him meant I never felt close to him as a character--in fact a time or two he struck me as downright creepy. Several aspects of the plot, such as the use of hypnosis seemed pat and cliched--and it was unbelievable to me that it took so long for Rebus to get the connection between the string of anonymous notes he receives and its connections to him and the murders. This isn't a series I'll be revisiting.
crazybatcow on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Well, I started this book twice because the first time it was just too boring to read. The second time it was a bit better, but... nothing actually happens in it. I guess it was intended to introduce Rebus and give us his history, but... I thought it was kinda pathetic. There is some "crime" plot going on in the background, but the entire book is about Rebus and his sex life and his army nightmare (which was also pretty dumb because, come on, no military does that stuff to their own people). And there is a secondary character (newspaper reporter) that gets a lot of page-time but does absolutely nothing in or for the story so... Someone suggested this for a Reacher replacement... yeah, whatever... if Child's books were as lame as this one, they'd have to get, I dunno, Tom Cruise to play Reacher in the movies (oh, err... oops...)
-Eva- on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I used to live in Edinburgh and love that city dearly, so I'll just start with my little caveat that I may not be entirely unbiased when it comes to this book. The Edinburgh I lived in wasn't quite the grimy underbelly that Rebus hangs out in, but I know its edges and that, of course, raises the stakes for me. This book turned out to be the start of a long series about Rebus and it's quite a good start. We find out the reason why Rebus is the "standard" cranky detective - and it's not your average-detective reason. The plot line is a little messy, but for a first novel it presents a nice array of characters, foremost a sarcastic detective who reads (and buys) huge amounts of books - what's not to like?
msjoanna on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed the characterizations of Edinburgh as much as I enjoyed the characters. I found the plot arc somewhat predictable, but enjoyed the book enough to want to read more of the Inspector Rebus series. Since I already have the second book in the series, I'll give that one a try and hope that I find the plot a bit less generic.
PirateJenny on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I can't help seeing John Hannah as Rebus, but there are far worse things in life. Anyway, there is a spate of girls going missing but no one can see any connection between them, making figuring out the next victim next to impossible. To make matters worse, a reporter has himself convinced that Rebus is trafficking drugs and just won't leave him alone. I have to say, I really didn't see the reason the girls were being abducted at all, which to me is great. I love when I can't figure things out.
pw0327 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Amazon automated merchandise recommender keeps pushing this series to me because I loved Peter Robinson's Inspector Banks books, so I decided to try it out. This time I decided to do it chronologically. I certainly it gets better than the first book. Not that Knots and Crosses is terrible, it is better than most but I keep getting the feeling that Ian Rankin is capable of a lot more research and be elaborate more on the protagonist and antagonist's relationship. The description of the key to solving the mystery was done in a slap dash manner while I was really hoping for something more substantial.The characterization was a tad too cliched and workmanlike. The description of the chief protagonist was achingly pedestrian. the typical tortured anti-hero, the strong and silent cowboy non-conformist, no one understands and everyone leaves him because he i so odd, but he has a deadly secret ploy. This wouldn't be so bad except that it has been done to death.The best parts of the novel is the description of Edinbrough's streetscapes and what lays beneath the glitter and spit shine of the tourist's version of Edinbrough.All in all and in retrospect, this is an excellent start to a mystery series, but like I said, I was hoping for more. It may be unfair of me to say this but I really the plotting and the writing of Inspector Banks much much better.But I will go forth and tackle the next one in the series, hopefully it will improve.
Joycepa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Introducing Detective Sergeant John Rebus of the Edinburgh police.Rebus' past, which he can not remember, haunts him in dreams and even in waking life, with screams of "Don't leave me". Divorced, on good terms with his 12 year old daughter Samantha whom he adores, Rebus is caught up in a case of pre-teen girls who are strangled but not sexually assaulted, a puzzling type of serial murder. In addition, he receives a number of what he dismisses as crank notes, first at the station, then at home. It takes his lover, Detective Inspector Gill Templer, to intuit that the 2 are connected, and his brother Michael, a hypnotist, to unlock the past with the key to the murders.Very fast paced, tension kept high throughout. Concise prose, with gritty descriptions of characters and events. The descriptions of Edinburgh give what appears to be an authentic "feel" for the underside.Highly recommended.
adamallen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My first Ian Rankin read and my first crime/grit/inspector novel. A very good read and Inspector Rebus is an excellent character. It helps that Edinburgh is one of the settings...I've already purchased the second Rebus novel, Hide and Seek. I intend to read them in order if they continue to be this good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Disappointing characters and descriptions of Edinburgh.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Couldn't put it down
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
saw a review of thus author on PBS So I tried his first novel. Not that impressed but may want another by him.Must admit I'm a bit worn with tough cops especially after reading Lee Childs but I am enjoying Longmire on Netflix
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Perfect balance of character and action. No lurid overkill like so many thrillers these days. Solid, honest, engaging. Well worth reading. Classic, timeless.
Delphimo More than 1 year ago
Inspector Rebus is an enigma as a character. He seems gentle, religious, and blasé. But as the book progresses, the reader learns that Rebus trained for Special Forces in the military, and passed with flying colors, then has a mental breakdown after the completion. Rebus seems to pro through life with a failed marriage and a so-so police career. A serial killer has murdered two young girls, and then abducts Rebus's daughter. The story quickly ends after the abduction. I do not find any redeemable quality in Rebus as the main character.
elizabeth39 More than 1 year ago
This is my second novel starring Inspector Rebus. Rankin makes Rebus colorful with a drive to reach solutions. Looking forward to the entire series.