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Book Review: Knots and Crosses

Knots and Crosses (Inspector Rebus, #1)Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had not read Ian Rankin before, so decided to start with his first Inspector Rebus mystery.

The novel was first published in 1987 and it’s a bit of a shock to read a modern story that has no computers, no Internet, no cell phones, or any of the communications devices we use today. It makes for a much slower story.

Rebus is an Edinburgh police inspector struggling with what we would call today PTSD, a failed marriage, and keeping touch with a daughter he barely knows. We get to see the seedier side of the city where alcohol, drugs, and thieves flourish.

The story starts with the abduction and subsequent murder of two teenage girls and leads us into a search for the identity of the killer.

Rankin draws a portrait of a man who is fumbling through life and his job. The story is more about how he can continue to function day after day without breaking down than about his abilities as a policeman and how he solves the murders. It is disconcerting and defies expectations, while at the same time somewhat disappointing. The prose is strong if not elegant, but I found it a slow read, which is unusual in a mystery.

Rankin’s first book was a good enough read for me to try his second, but not enough to rave about it.

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