The very first Rebus novel from the No.1 bestselling author.
'And in Edinburgh of all places. I mean, you never think of that sort of thing happening in Edinburgh, do you...?'
'That sort of thing' is the brutal abduction and murder of two young girls. And now a third is missing, presumably gone to the same sad end. Detective Sergeant John Rebus, smoking and drinking too much, 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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Ian Rankin’s Inside Story: “Knots & Crosses was written in 1985 when I was a PHD student at the University of Edinburgh, doing a doctoral thesis in Scottish literature. But mostly, I was sitting in the library writing my own books. Knots & Crosses came to me via that doctoral thesis, because the thesis was focusing on the novelist, Muriel Spark. Her most famous creation, Miss Jean Brodie, tells the reader that she is descended from a guy called William Brodie, who was a real-life Edinburgh character. What she doesn't tell you in the book is that Brodie was a villain. He was a gentleman by day, but by night, he was a crook, and he would break into your house and steal your valuables. He was also a carpenter, and he built the scaffold that he was eventually hanged on when he was caught.
“Now, Robert Louis Stevenson, when he was a child, had a wardrobe in his bedroom that had been made by William Brodie. And Stevenson’s nurse maid would tell him the story of this guy who was both good and evil. So Miss Jean Brodie took me to this guy William Brodie, and that took me to Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. This novel was very much my take on Stevenson’s classic. It was an updating of the theme. The reader is meant to think that Rebus, the detective, may also be the killer because he’s blocking stuff out from his memory, he has memory lapses and he’s got a locked room in his flat.
“And, honestly, it was meant to be a one-off. I didn’t know much about the police and certainly didn’t really read police procedurals. I watched cop shows on TV like The Sweeney and Kojak but that was about it. However, it was published as a crime novel. Straight on to the crime fiction shelves in bookshops. I thought, ‘Oh, I seem to have become a crime writer.’ But it disappeared without a trace. It sold very few copies, it didn’t win any prizes and the reviews were very muted. So I just put Rebus to one side thinking, ‘Well, that’s me done with him. I don’t need to write about him again…’.”