Review: Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin

05 Feb

Knots and Crosses (Inspector Rebus, #1)My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Last month, I read the most recent of Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus books, Exit Music.  I enjoyed it, and decided to check out some of the earlier books.  Knots and Crosses is the beginning of the series.


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 cannot stop the feverish shrieks from within his own mind. Because he isn’t just one cop trying to catch a killer, he’s the man who’s got all the pieces to the puzzle…

I found it 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.

I enjoyed the character of Inspector Rebus, even if he isn’t someone I’d like if I met him.   He was a complex character,  one that I look forward to learning more about in future books.  The secondary characters were also interesting, for the most part.  There was more depth to his colleagues in the police department than in the depictions of his family members, which I think was an intriguing deliberate choice.

The mystery worked well enough.  For most of the book, it was presented as a way to get to know Rebus.  This isn’t the sort of book where you can solve the mystery before the police– there’s too much we as readers don’t know that contributes to the resolution.

As far as I could tell, Exit Music is either the last book of the series, or it marks a significant turning point.  Starting there and moving to the beginning was a curious experience.  Rebus is recognizably the same character, but he does change as the story continues.

I’ll continue reading this series.

1 Comment

Posted by on February 5, 2010 in books, reviews


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One response to “Review: Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin

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