Knots and Crosses


Author: Ian Rankin

Title: Knots and Crosses

Genre: Mystery

Publication Date: 1987

Number of Pages: 256

Geographical Setting: Edinburgh, Scotland.

Time Period: c. 1980’s

Series: First of the Inspector Rebus novels

Plot Summary: Knots and Crosses is the first installment in Rankin’s Inspector Rebus novel series. In fact, at the time the story takes place, Rebus has not yet reached the rank of Inspector, as he’s still a detective. Rebus is a forty-something, hard drinking, irreverant, often disheveled in appearance Edinburgh police investigator and military veteran. When young girls begin disappearing in Edinburgh only to be found later, dead from strangulation, Rebus rounds up the usual group of local sex offenders. However, the plot takes an increasingly ominous turn when the police realize that the murdered girls have not been raped or sexually violated. With uncertainty in the air and the citizens of Edinburgh in a state of panic, the suspense skyrockets as Detective Rebus’ only daughter Samantha is abducted. Interstingly, Rebus’ subconscious and memories of his past have been haunting him throughout the investigation. Upon his daughter’s abduction, he is excused from duty because the case now involves him personally, and he briefly sojourns to the country home of his brother, a stage hypnotist. After a few drinks and undergoing hypnosis, Rebus realizes that the disappearences and murders of the children are directly linked to a traumatizing episode from his own past. With time running out, and with Samantha in captivity, Rebus frantically attempts to rescue his daughter and find the child killer.

Subject headings: Hardboiled fiction; Police — Edinburgh, Scotland; Scottish detectives; Edinburgh, Scotland; Mystery stories, Scottish; Murder; Murder investigation; Hypnotisim; Kidnapping; Hypnotists; Family secrets; Serial murders – Edinburgh; Abuse Survivors; Recovered memory

Appeal: compelling, recognizable, series [characters], flashback, plot twists, sexually explicit, tragic, urban, atmospheric, darker, edgy, menacing atmosphere, psychological, suspenseful, accessible

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Beyond Belief: A Chronicle of Murder and its Detection—by Emlyn Williams. This book chronicles the events of the Manchester Moors Murders that occurred in the late 1960’s when Ian Brady and Myra Hindley kidnapped and murdered unattended children and teenagers who were unattended/unsupervised on the moor in the English countryside.

Edinburgh—Picturesque Notes—by Robert Lewis Stevenson. This book examines the national and cultural identities of Edinburgh, the Jekyll and Hide duality of the city, and the idea of Edinburgh as a character.

Bloody Business: An Anecdotal History of Scotland Yard—by H. Paul Jeffers. This book chronicles the macabre history of Scotland Yard through recounting numerous notorious cases, such as Jack the Ripper, and Reg Christie, who murdered six women.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

A Small Death in Lisbon—by Robert Wilson. This book features Inspector Ze Coelho as he investigates the murder of a young girl and discovers that the crime is possibly linked to past misdeeds involving the Nazis.  (engrossing,

Skinner’s Round—by Quintin Jardine. A legendary golf tournament is scheduled to take place in Edinburgh on the heels of a string of gruesome murders, and police chief Robert Skinner works to determine whether or not there is a otherworldly motive for the killings.

The Guards—by Ken Bruen. A mysterious woman who has heard rumor of his talents hires Jack Taylor, grieving for his deceased father and recently discharged from the Irish police force due to alcoholism.

Name: Patrick

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