Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin

Knots and Crosses is a crime novel from 1987 by Ian Rankin, and is the first of many Inspector John Rebus novels.

John Rebus is a cop in Edinburgh with a haunting past involving the SAS. He smokes and drinks too much, his wife left him and his estranged daughter isn't particularly impressed by him either. Edinburgh is his city, but things are going down the drain. A killer is on the loose, two young girls kidnapped and strangled, and now a third has been reported missing. Rebus is assigned to the case which grows bigger and more gruesome as time flies and the journalists flock like vultures. Meanwhile an anonymous loony is sending Rebus letters with knots on strings and matchstick crosses, reporter Stevens thinks he's on to something involving both Rebus and his brother, and Rebus would rather he could just forget it all and make it go away as events take an turn for the personal and the scary.

It's a short read, but a good one. It took a while for the story to get going and I spent a while being rather frustrated with Rebus and his dark problems and haunting memories. About halfway through the story picks up the pace though and I found myself pulled in. Without spoiling the actual plot I can tell that it's not one of those crime novels where you get hints and clues throughout the book and the killer's identity is revealed on the last page. This is more about Rebus, and him coming to terms with himself and his past.

Should I come across the next book in the series I would read it. The characters are well written, the story is strong and over all it's time well spent.

226 pages / published in 1987
Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2010


  1. Great review of an olide but goodie that has been on my "to read" list for a while.


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