Rebus 1,2,3

Knots an Crosses – Rebus Book 1

After a brutal abduction and murder of two young girls a third is missing, presumably gone to the same sad end. Detective Sergeant John Rebus, his own young daughter spirited away south by his disenchanted wife, is one of many policemen hunting the killer. And then the messages begin to arrive: knotted string and matchstick crosses – taunting Rebus with pieces of a puzzle only he can solve.

My thoughts: I enjoyed all the extra information for readers in this novel and Rankin is right when he says that Knots and Crosses is more of a historical text now. For a first novel it is easy to see what a great writer Rankin is. I barely noticed the lack of police-specific information that he alluded to in the introduction. He just wrote a cracking story! There were only two things that gave away the fact Rankin was quite young when he wrote this book: firstly Rebus seems a lot older than his 40-odd years. Maybe to someone mid-twenties this is how a 40 year old would act! Secondly, one of Rebus’ co-workers comments on hanging in until retirement – he’s only 35!

Overall: I really enjoyed this novel and thought it was a fantastic debut and it didn’t seem dated.

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Hide and Seek – Rebus Book 2

A junkie lies dead in an Edinburgh squat, spreadeagled, cross-like on the floor, between two burned-down candles, a five-pointed star daubed on the wall above. Just another dead addict – until John Rebus begins to chip away at the indifference, treachery, deceit and sleaze that lurks behind the facade of the Edinburgh familiar to tourists.

My thoughts: The content of drugs and associated vices is still a contemporary issue so I wondered if this novel caused some controversy upon publication. Maybe not as social issues (as with property prices) don’t change. I enjoyed Rebus’ co-workers in this novel, particularly Holmes as he brought some wry humour to the plot. Edinburgh is its own character and the distance between London and Scotland is more than geographical.

Overall: Still achingly contemporary. How does Rankin do it?

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Tooth and Nail – Rebus Book 3

They call him the Wolfman – because he takes a bite out of his victims and because they found the first victim in the East End’s lonely Wolf Street. Scotland Yard are anxious to find the killer and Inspector Rebus is drafted in to help. But his Scotland Yard opposite number, George Flight, isn’t happy at yet more interference, and Rebus finds himself dealing with racial prejudice as well as the predations of a violent maniac. 

My thoughts: At last, a good old fashioned serial killer story. I loved Rebus’ observations of London and its inhabitants – all new comers to London must notice this so it was a nice trip down memory lane in some respects. It’s almost a shame this is the only time Rebus is forced to travel south.

Overall: Now the series is really hotting up. Can’t wait to read more!

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Four observations:

In each novel the staff Rebus works with change. There is is little continuity yet it doesn’t feel like you are missing pieces of the puzzle. What a talented writer Rankin is to be able to introduce a new cast each novel and make it feel familiar and safe.

Rebus does seem a lot older than his 40 years in all three novels yet this does not bother me.

It is unusual to have a crime lead interested in religion and the battle of good vs evil. I’m enjoying this element.

I am also enjoying the reading group questions and extra essays in each novel. Thank you Orion!

 

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