Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin

At last I’ve got around to reading Knots and Crosses, the first in Rankin’s Rebus series which I’ve stupidly been reading all out of order. Laura recently gave me a copy of the book and I thought it would be a good idea to read it just after James Oswald’s Natural Causes, to compare their first police procedural forays.

Set mainly in Edinburgh of course, where there have been abductions and subsequent murders of young schoolgirls. What do the girls have in common, what links them to the perpetrator, why is Rebus being sent bits of string in envelopes?

I did enjoy this book which is mainly introducing Rebus to us and he is a character that I really like. On that score I did think it was a wee bit unbalanced as for me there was just a bit too much Rebus compared with the crimes and sleuthing. There were a few areas of the book which went ‘clunk’ on my ear and which I’m sure Ian Rankin would write differently now, but the first one of any series will inevitably be awkward compared with the following ones.

All in all, I do think that James Oswald’s first book Natural Causes is better than Rankin’s first effort – so no pressure then for James!

As I’ve been accompanying Rebus in his smoking, hard drinking and consequent hangovers I decided to give my liver and lungs a bit of a detox and opted to read a vintage crime by Patricia Wentworth next, a Miss Silver mystery, The Clock Struck Twelve. More on that soon.

6 thoughts on “Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin

  1. Rebus is new to me, imagine that I’ve not even got to the TV show yet! So funny that we both got this book at the same time! I have to put it off for a book or two though as I have a NetGalley I have to read first:( I love your way with words by the way! Detoxing with Miss Silver, how true though!

    • Peggy Ann,
      It is weird about the book! I didn’t like the John Hannah Rebus but the Ken Stott Rebus is very good.
      Give me knitting rather than hangovers anyday!

  2. I read this one several years ago and haven’t read another in the series. I thought it was too dark and I was tired of every detective drinking too much, smoking too much, having problems with their families. Maybe there really aren’t any fairly normal (please tell me having all those problems isn’t normal) people in that business. That said, Amazon US has a $1.99 Kindle deal today for Rankin’s Exit Music. For that price, I’ll give him another try.

    • Joan,
      Rebus is dark but I watched the TV series first (Ken Stott) and really liked that so started on the books. I think that real cops often have even more problems than drinking – like rampant debts and gambling, from what I’ve heard!

  3. I recently did the same thing and started the Rebus series in order, having read a couple of them willy nilly. I thought this one was good, but a bit too coincidental. I think that is a common problem with first books in series — the author is too worried about how to bring the hero into the mystery, so brings him in too close.

    I liked the second book better. Then I think the third one, Tooth & Nail, was no good. I suspect it was written first, unsold, stuck in a drawer, and only dusted off after the first one did ok. I really think he hit his stride with the 4th novel, Strip Jack.

    This puts me in the mood to read another one. Let It Bleed is next for me.

    • Rose City Reader,
      Interesting. I haven’t read Tooth and Nail, might skip that one. I think all writers have a cache of books under their beds, ready to pull out at some point. I wonder if that was when he was almost dropped by his publisher. I’ve read Let It Bleed and did enjoy that one.

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