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16 April 2015

Ian Rankin: Knots and Crosses (Inspector Rebus 1)

A great beginning
This is #1 in the long-running John Rebus series by Ian Rankin. While it has some of the signs of a debut novel it also shows Rankin's great ability in plotting a thriller and developing a character as complex as John Rebus.

After an eventful and stressful experience with the SAS Rebus is adjusting to life as a Detective Sergeant in the Edinburgh homicide squad. He is still suffering from post traumatic stress but he can't remember what was the real trigger. He drinks too much, smokes too much and still suffers nightmares. His marriage has collapsed, he only sees his teenage daughter occasionally and his love life is occasional.

Rebus is thrown into a major investigation of a serial killer of young girls where there are no real clues except that the killer will strike again. The only thing that can be done is to try and find a clue through diligent police work. Rebus is part of the team but doesn't realise that the case has a personal element - until almost too late.

There is a bit of a strange sub-plot featuring Rebus's brother John who has taken over his father's profession as a stage hypnotist, and a local crime journalist who thinks he knows more than he really does.

Ian Rankin has written 19 bestselling crime novels in the John Rebus series with another one (Even Dogs in the Wild) due to be published in November 2015. This series has come a long way since this book was first published nearly 30 years ago. At the time Rankin contemplated making it a standalone book - thank goodness he allowed the series to develop. It now has a such a cult following that the real settings used in later books in the series are now part of tourist "John Rebus" tours.

There is still some time before #20 in the series is published and I will try to find the time to read more of this great series before then. Unfortunately there are other talented writers of "Tartan Crime Noir", especially Stuart MacBride, who will compete for my attention.

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