Knots and Crosses is the first in Ian Rankin’s multi-award-winning series of novels about Inspector John Rebus. According to the author himself, he intended the novel to be a modern update of the myth of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but ended up turning out a taut and psychologically believable police procedural.
As the first novel in a series, Knots and Crosses does have its issues—while the plot centers around John Rebus and his quite painful past in the Special Air Service, he doesn’t really come together as a person in the novel’s present, mostly due to an amplitude of “burned out cop” clichés such as chain-smoking, drinking everything liquid put in front of him, and problems relating to other people.
However, it is still a quite good story in its own right, and it sets the stage for the other mysteries in the series, where Rankin does a very good job of fleshing out Rebus’s character.
As a bonus, it is fabulous to read such a well put-together piece of crime fiction that does not take place in any of the “crime” cities such as LA, New York, or London. Rankin’s Edinburgh is a dark and gloomy place, haunted by the shadows of its past and the cold, merciless winds of the North Sea.
The perfect place for Rebus’s scarred soul.
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