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by Ian Rankin
St. Martin's, December 1995
228 pages
ISBN: 0312956738

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Knots and Crosses is the first John Rebus mystery. There are hidden secrets in this one which Rebus hides from throughout the series. Although there are the first novel mistakes, this one by Rankin shows what promise he has as author, and what depth Rebus will develop as a character.

The Strangler, a person who is kidnapping and murdering little girls through Edinburgh, is driving the police crazy. At the same time, John Rebus is receiving mysterious clues along with knots in his personal mail. With the killings going on, Rebus' brother, Michael, a stage hypnotist, is dealing drugs, so reporter, Jim Stevens, thinks he is on the biggest story of his life. Little does he know that there really is no connection.

When his daughter, Samantha, is kidnapped by the Strangler, Rebus goes off. Meanwhile, Liaison officer, Gill Templar, is becoming involved with Rebus, maybe placing her career in jeopardy. During one scene, where Rebus is hypnotized by his brother, he spills out everything about his past, especially during his years with the SAS. It is this connection that finally puts him on the right track.

With adept characterization, Rankin delivers a strong story, full of background details which become more evident throughout the series. Moreover, Edinburgh comes across as one of the most compelling characters in this first book. Not the strongest, but definitely one of the more compelling story lines, with a surprise ending that delivers a slight twist by this author.

Reviewed by Steven Sill, September 2003

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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