Well, this is definitely a departure in my reading patterns. This novel, Knots & Crosses by Ian Rankin, is my first dive into the genre of pure detective fiction. And what an exhilarating first plunge - like a swan dive into an empty pool, but in a very good way.
This is the first novel in the long and well known (to those into detective fiction that is) Rebus series. Actually touted on the cover as "Rankin and Rebus" so people like myself will know what to look for on the bookstore shelf. Good marketing for good books.
The main character is somewhat recognizable - he drinks too much, is divorced with one daughter, fantasizes about women and scores on occasion (go Rebus!), smokes too much but is trying to quit, not afraid to break the law, steals when it suits him, hangs around with some of the wrong crowd, etc. No, the main character is not your local politician, but John Rebus and he works as an Inspector for the police in Edinburgh.
Being the first novel we naturally want to know all about the protagonist, and Rankin does not disappoint. In fact this novel deals with Rebus more than the actual murders and we get insights into his past, his relatives, his inner self and those he used to associate with. And it is very well done. The murder plot gets tangled up directly with his family and becomes personal and ends with a satisfying conclusion. All in all a worthy book with good writing and no extraneous drivel.
I can’t say any more about the details in case you want to read it (I suggest you do) but I will mention one more thing about the actual book itself. The cover and binding is top notch, at least the Orion paperback versions I own and have seen. These "Rankin and Rebus" paperbacks are a pleasure to hold and read and even the texture of the covers is unusual. It is almost silk-like. More marketing genius, and not unappreciated by me for sure.
So when you read this book you will be compelled to read them all as I am. I’m pretty sure of that. And you have a total (so far) of 15 novels of Rebus to sink your teeth into. I’m glad I took a friend’s advice and decided to read it. Now, I will be on to the next 14.