The first book in the beloved Inspector John Rebus series, Knots and Crosses is a fabulous introduction to not only the central character, but the streets of the city he protects.
In this novel – preceded by a fairly self-deprecating introduction by Ian Rankin who reflects on his early writing efforts through the lens of his success and how Rebus and the reception of his books changed so much over the years – ex-SAS man, Detective Sergeant Rebus is still reeling from a bitter divorce from his wife, Rhona and his increasingly distant relationship with his daughter, 12-year-old Samantha. Furthermore, he is harbouring some deep, psychological trauma which he refuses or is unable to acknowledge, one that often emotionally winds him, leaving him feeling bereft, confused and somehow ashamed. Seemingly unable to form let alone keep a functional relationship, including with his younger brother, the hypnotist Michael, Rebus is delighted when a female Inspector, the rather glamorous and efficient Gillian Templer, takes an interest in him.
When the bodies of young girls start turning up, little does Rebus realise how personal this case is going to become – not until it’s too late. Throw in drug-dealers, a persistent journalist pursuing a story that will potentially shatter lives, unsigned cryptic letters, angry bosses, tired cops, and the flawed Rebus, who has a tendency to reflect deeply on literature and quote from it, and the stage is set for a moody, atmospheric, character-driven book set on the mean streets of Edinburgh.
Thoroughly enjoyed it and am already looking forward to getting to know Inspector John Rebus and co much better.