Knots And Crosses by Ian Rankin
|Knots And Crosses by Ian Rankin|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: Important as the first of the Rebus novels this book has excellent characterisation but lacks the level of plot achieved in the later books. It's a short read but not necessary for the enjoyment of the later novels.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: September 2005|
Detective Inspector John Rebus has a daughter the same age as the two girls who have been abducted and murdered, their bodies dumped on waste ground. It feels personal even before the murderer starts to send him personal messages, each one accompanied either by a cross made from matchsticks or some knotted string. Rebus is being taunted, not least because he feels that the cryptic notes should reveal the killer's identity.
As a stand-alone novel this book would probably not have stood the test of time. First published in 1987 it didn't excite a great deal of interest initially and is now important only because it's the first of the Rebus novels. Characterisation is excellent – Rebus arrives fully formed as the tortured soul with a difficult private life that we've come to know and love, the more so as we don't have to deal with him personally.
The writing is excellent. Rankin's style is simple and direct with few words wasted and lacks any of the padding which seems to tempt other authors. On the other hand, the plot is decent but not the best. The book is essentially about Rebus and the pace of the plot suffers from getting tied up with some of his soul searching about his rather complicated past.
If you're a completist then this fairly short book is undoubtedly the place to start with the Rebus novels, but each can be read as a stand-alone and you will lose little if you start with a a later book and decide then if you want to go back and fill in any of the gaps. If you're buying the book it's also worth seeing if the omnibus edition – Rebus: the Early Years - containing the first three novels is available.
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