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Set in Edinburgh, 1985, this is the first novel featuring Detective Sergeant John Rebus. In the tradition of flawed detectives, he is divorced and has a stilted relationship with his daughter, Sammy and a distant one with his only brother, Michael. Living in a flat, his mattress on the floor and books piled all around him, Rebus is a rather grumpy character who both drinks and smokes too much. Leaving the army (specifically the SAS Special Assignment Group) he has had a breakdown before joining the police force. However, many of the memories that he has tried to block out are about to come back and haunt him.

Girls in the city are being abducted and murdered - girls of around the same age as Sammy. As Rebus becomes involved in both the investigation and with a colleague, Gill Templer, he is also intrigued by a series of anonymous notes, containing either pieces of knotted string or two matchsticks making a cross. Meanwhile, journalist Jim Stevens, is drawn to Rebus in the course of another story and, before long, Rebus finds that his life, and that of his family, is in danger as the past and present collide.

This is a good start to the series, although it is obvious that the author is in no way certain that Rebus will become a long running character and he is still trying to create his background and traits. However, if you are reading a series, I always think it is best to begin at the beginning and get a sense of how the characters develop. Obviously, this is a long running and very successful series and I look forward to reading on and feel glad that I have (finally) discovered it.
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on 31 August 2016
Having put off for a long time trying Rankin (possibly because I felt it a tad old) I finally picked up the first of the Rebus books for my kindle... I'm hooked. He's such an interesting character and the story had me gripped from the start. To the point I downloaded books 2 - 4 and have almost completed all of those! Why oh why have I left it so long to enjoy these? On the plus side at least there isn't a long wait until book 5 and onward!
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on 14 July 2017
Having read a couple of Rebus books a year or so ago and enjoyed them I thought to start from the beginning and come up to date with the character over the next few months. I therefore chose this, the first one he wrote. I got a shock. I found myself cowering before a steady stream of strained similes as if the writer had caught an stomach bug on a creative writing course (yes some of them were even worse than that!) There was no let up, and plot didn't help. It was of the 'he kept receiving mysterious symbolic messages' type, and as is often the case in such tales the explanation was too silly for words. And to cap it all the fun was lot of poor little girls getting bumped off. Goodness knows where all the gushing reviews come from ... But the ones I read before were fine - don't be put off Rankin if this is your first one.
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on 23 March 2016
This is the first Rebus novel I've read. It's also the first novels in which I cannot find a single likeable character. Rebus appears to be a scruffy ill disciplined oaf, and if that is a true representation of our constabulary then we're in worse trouble than even cynical old me anticipated. And I really don't want to know about his sex life. I don't think the writer does the city any favours either. Having said that, the plot is compelling, although I'm not sure the army's actions are believable. I will try the second in the series.
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on 15 March 2017
I have read a couple of Rebus books but they were both later ones. I have decided to start at the beginning and I am glad that I did. I think by reading Knots and Crosses you learn so much about Rebus as a character. The story is quite simple really and not like his complex later cases. I will definitely be reading the next one.
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on 18 July 2017
Having largely ignored Rankin for most of my life, my high expectations of this established writer were almost bound to be disappointed. A pot-boiler stitch-up of Christie, Hitchcock and Greene might be considered acceptable for an unknown author, and perhaps the sex helped sell the book back along. The storytelling is competent, of course, but the plot is just not credible. An improbably named policeman with an improbable drug-dealing hypnotist brother and an improbable army background that he improbably can't remember. Please.... And character development? I didn't know anymore about Rebus at the end of the book than I did at the beginning. Perhaps I should dip into a later volume? I might not bother.
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on 21 July 2016
Good plot but difficult to read. Never had I read a book with so many words I didn't understand in my vocabulary. Some pages I had to read more than once, as it didn't flow well. It wasn't a relaxing read.
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on 28 June 2017
I really enjoyed this book - It was my first Inspector Rebus story but won't be the last!
I thought Ian Rankin's introduction really enhanced the experience, the character of Rebus was fascinating and complex, pure gold from start to finish.
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on 15 July 2017
I was very disappointed. I found it extremely irritating that the author had his characters using each other's names all the time (this does not happen in real conversations), & I found the story line so tedious that I gave up after two chapters.
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on 18 July 2017
Bought this as Rankin is highly regarded, it was pretty crap to be honest but it's his first novel & im told his stuff improves. On the basis of this outing, it needs to.
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