I have seen Rankin’s books in stores, but, despite going down a crime fiction spiral over the past few years, had never read any of his work. But last year I heard an interview with him on the Bookin’ podcast and was intrigued enough to pick up a few used copies of his novels. Knots and Crosses is the first of those novels I’ve actually read, and the first in his decades-long running series featuring Detective Sergeant John Rebus of Edinborough.
As the novel opens, Rebus receives a string of cryptic notes both at work and at home. During this same time a series of young girls are kidnapped and murdered and all of Edinborough is getting nervous. His brother is involved in some type of shady business, and a crime reporter is chasing them both, assuming they are in it together. Rebus begins a relationship with the officer who is in charge of press for the investigations of the murders. His past is murky, to the reader, and even to himself. Gradually everything comes together in an incredibly effective thriller.
I will certainly be reading more Rankin. On this small sample size, he creates well rounded believable characters. One of his goals was to explore the seedier, non-tourist side of Edinborough. Having never been there, I can’t speak to its accuracy, but the novel feels settled in a very specific place. And the prose is excellent. It isn’t the pared to bone brilliance of Elmore Leonard. Nor is it as lushly descriptive as James Lee Burke. But it is a pleasure to read on a sentence to sentence level. The novel is vibrant and thrilling. I’m planning on reading the sequel very soon.
Owned But Previously Unread 2020 16/75
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