Girls are being kidnapped and murdered around Edinburgh and John Rebus is on the case. But what, if anything, do the disappearances have to do with bizarre letters Rebus has been getting in the post?
The mother-in-law of the owner of my favorite used bookstore has been on my ass for years to give the Inspector Rebus books a shot. When this one turned up during one of my semi-weekly visits, I decided it was time.
This slim volume packs quite a punch. As the first book in a mystery series, it has a lot of heavy lifting to do, which it does quite well. John Rebus left the SAS under mysterious circumstances and joined the police department. Fifteen years later, he's divorced with a teenage daughter and has large blank areas in his past. When the past comes knocking at his door, it's time to pay the piper.
John Rebus reminded me of a lot of detectives from the time Knots and Crosses was written, like Elvis Cole, for instance, but what he really reminded me of was a late 1980's version of Dorothy Sayers' shell-shocked aristocrat detective, Lord Peter Whimsey. Rebus' buried past lurks on the periphery of his day to day life with the Edinburgh PD, much like Lord Peter's.
Rebus has a lot baggage, from his stage hypnotist brother to his ex-wife and everything in between. He's a sad bastard in a long line of sad bastard detectives but has enough uniqueness that I'll be happy to visit him again in the future.
The mystery wasn't really solveable but I think Knots and Crosses was more of a setup book than anything else. Rankin's writing was pretty good. I think he did a good job of portraying cops as real people. I have to wonder if Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad was influenced by Rankin.
That's enough rambling. 3.5 out of 5 stars. I didn't love it but I liked it enough to want to read more books featuring John Rebus.