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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Knots & Crosses by Ian Rankin

Knots and Crosses
by Ian Rankin
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Minotaur Books; Reprint edition
Publication date: September 16, 2008
ISBN-13: 978-0312536923
Genre: Mystery
Appropriate for College Age and Adults
Rating 4.5 Crowns

I love a great mystery. Even saying "I love a great mystery" is not a strong enough statement. Oh, how I wish you could have been with me when I opened this book and read just the dedication page! I said to myself "Please, let it be half-way interesting, just enough so that I can get through it quickly!" Well with an opening like:

The girl screamed once, only the once. Even that,however, was a minor slip on his part.
That might have been the end of everything, almost before it had begun.

I was hooked! I read the book in one sitting! This is Ian Rankin's first novel about Detective Sergeant John Rebus. It was first published in 1987 (before cell phones were popular!). Mr. Rankin went on to publish 17 additional Rebus' stories over the next 20 years.

In Knots and Crosses we meet John Rebus as he is leaving his father's graveside to go visit his brother. John had followed in his father's footsteps by joining the SAS (Special Air Service), hoping it would place him in his father's favor. Once his father was out of the service he became a show hypnotist and trained John's brother Michael in the trade. Michael grew up to also perform as a hypnotist. The brothers were never close. Michael was always the favorite of his father. John could never do enough to get his father's attention, not even by joining the Army and the SAS.

Throughout the book we are given hints that something happened to John while he was in the SAS. We know he left the service and had a nervous breakdown immediately upon his departure; however, the government was able to get him the job on the police force. While he was recovering from his nervous breakdown, he married, had a child, tried to live the married life for awhile but was just too messed up and subsequently divorced. By the time the story opens his daughter is twelve, his wife is bitter and dating, and John is placed on a serial kidnapping and murder case that somehow he is linked to.

Oh the twists and turns and complications. And how Ian Rankin pulls additional literary characters and stories into the plot ~ oh wow! Crime and Punishment is a major part of the storyline! And Greek mythological creatures!

No sooner had he finished with a case than another two or three appeared in its place. What was the name of that creature?
The Hydra, was it?
That was what he was fighting. Every time he cut off a head, more popped into his in-tray.

John receives anonymous letters at his work, at his home, with cryptic messages that he cannot make sense of. At first he believes the messages may be coming from either his daughter or his ex-wife. He finally realizes that no, it is someone entirely different. Someone with an ulterior motive. A sinister motive.

If you've read any of the Detective Sergeant John Rebus books or any other of Ian Rankin's books, I'd love to hear your thoughts about his writing. He's won several awards including the British Book Award, GQ Writer of the Year in '05, Worldbooks Crime Thriller of the Year and a slew of other awards that you can look up on his site!

I have been a Stieg Larsson groupie since I discovered him last year, but I think now I'm going to have to become an Ian Rankin groupie too! This book gets a 4.5 crowns from me!

Visit Stacy @ A Novel Source


Kate said...

Great review. Sounds like an interesting read. Have you ever read The Deadfall Project? I got it a few weeks ago and can't put it down.

Mystica said...

Wonderful review and no I havent read any of his books but what about the P D James series? Adam Dalgleish is gorgeous!

Stacy said...

Oh my! The Deadfall Project looks fantastic! Thank you Kate for the recommendation!
And Mystica, believe it or not I have never read PD James but I simply must with a suggestion like that! Gorgeous men are right up my alley (well, not literally....just wishful thinking!)

Kate said...

I'm glad you like it. Did you get a chance to check out the sample chapter?

Anonymous said...

I have a stash of his books. I'll have to check and see if this is one of them. Sounds great.

misskallie2000 said...

Oh may but this is going to be a great read. I love mystery, suspense and intrigue and this sounds like just the book for me.

I have not read any of his books but am adding to my to buy list.
Thanks for the great review.

Renee said...

Thanks Stacy,

Ian Rankin has been on my To Read List for awhile now. I was going to start with Exit Music, but now I must read Knots & Crosses.

- Angela
(Queen of the Quill)

Jenny Girl said...

Oh this does sound like a great read in one sitting book! I love mysteries too and agree with you about that statement. never heard of this author so thanks for bringin him to my attention. Great review!