Friday, May 7, 2010

Knots and Crosses - Ian Rankin


I will admit, I am a sucker for crime thriller series. There was a day, long ago, when I thought I was the expert in such series. After all, I've read every adventure of Jack Reacher, Kinsey Millhone, Stephanie Plum, Kay Scarpetta, Lucas Davenport, Harry Bosch, Bernie Rodenbahr, Matthew Scudder, Elvis Cole, Joe Pike, Stone Barrington, blah, blah, blah. But when I started blogging, I was humbled. There are literally thousands of crime thriller series I've never even touched. I write down two or three a month that are recommended by fellow bloggers.

The latest came from Jill @ Rhapsody in Books, with Knots and Crosses, the first in the John Rebus series. It was an impulsive library order, and it landed squarely at the top of my stack for the 24-hour read-a-thon. I figured it was a good bet, as I'd heard rumblings that Rankin was one of the most highly-regarded crime novelists, up there with Connelly and P.D. James.

We are introduced to Detective Rebus, divorced and lonely, missing his daughter, and suffering from suppressed horrors that occurred in his military days. He is your classic damaged soul, slogging through his days, and trying to make a difference but never sure if it's working.

He has been assigned to the latest case terrorizing Edinburgh...a psycho that is targeting girls around the ages of 10 to 12, kidnapping and strangling them. Coincidentally, at the same time, Rebus starts to receive mysterious letters, saying "clues are everywhere", with small pieces of string with knots in them. Is this a joke from his brother, his ex-wife, a colleague? Or is it the murderer? And if it is, how does he know where Rebus lives? Soon, the case becomes personal, and Rebus is forced to confront memories he'd rather keep buried.

As far as crime thrillers go, the plot is one I've seen, with variations, many a time. What separates Rankin, however, from the mediocre masses in this genre is Rebus' raw suffering and humanity. He doesn't always make good choices (sleeping with strangers, drinking too much, not washing his clothes! Ick!) but the guy has a good heart. You find yourself in his corner, rooting for him to come out on top.

Is this the best crime thriller I've read recently? I couldn't say that. I'm still wishing Stieg Larsson was still alive so I could throw my panties at him. But it got me through the late hours of the read-a-thon, and I came out the other side wanting more of Rebus.

4 out of 5 stars


19 comments:

Julie P. said...

I might give this one a try. I recently read DOORS OPEN and didn't love the book, but I did appreciate his writing!

bermudaonion said...

I've heard good things about this series too. Maybe it gets better as it goes along.

Kay said...

This is another series that is on my radar. I'll get to it eventually I hope. Isn't it amazing how many crime series there are out there? Astounding. Thanks for sharing!

caite said...

As a thriller/mystery fan as well, you are correct that the difference between liking and not so much liking is very, very often your attachment to the characters.
I recently read and reviewed Rankin latest in this series and as I think now, it is not the 'mystery' that I remember about this book, but Rebus and the others.

Zibilee said...

I am always shy about approaching these books due to the fact that I think they will be too predictable for me. When I was working, the women in my office had a sort of book club going on, and these were pretty much the only types of books they read. There was once a book sale where everyone brought in their discards, and it was so amusing to see a whole room filled with mystery/suspense novels! I am impressed that you have read so many and followed along with so may series! I think I might have to pick a detective series and ride it on out throughout the series as well. I might just find a new genre to love!! I also have heard really good things about Tana French's books, and have a copy of The Likeness on my shelf. Have you read anything by French?

Kathleen said...

Wow, there are so many crime thrillers out there and so little time. Now I have another series to add to my list!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Lets get back to what you want to do with Stieg Larsson....

Kim Frazier said...

Throwing your panties at Stieg Larsson and calling Simon Vance ear candy! You are my favorite blogger! Thanks for a great Friday afternoon chuckle!

Jenners said...

It is sad that Larsson's life ended so early, isn't it? I heard it was going to be many more books.

And I used to think I was pretty well read ... until I started book blogging!

heidenkind said...

So Stieg Larson is #pantyworthy, then? :D

S. Krishna said...

I've been getting much more into crime fiction lately, so I'll have to give this one a try. Thanks for the review!

Andreea said...

I like to read crime thrillers from time to time, and this one sounds great. Thanks for your review, Sandy!

Alice Teh said...

Throw your panties at Larsson? LOL!

I heard so much about Jack Reacher and have two or three of Lee Child's novels, I gotta get started.

I don't think I've read anything by Ian Rankin and need to rectify that soon. Like you, I'm a sucker for crime thrillers as well.

Kaye said...

Youreally want to be humbled? Go to fictfact.com and see the bazillion series there. You can keep track of all the books in the series you have read. Neat site I got from reading Goodreads. Have a Happy Mother's Day, Sandy!

Beth F said...

I've had Rankin on my radar for a while now -- I hope to get to him soon (Haaaaaaaaaa).

Serena said...

I'm like you in that I love these crime series books, but I've discovered so many new ones that I never knew existed. Great review.

Iliana said...

I love Inspector Rebus. I'm up to book six or so in the series and I do think they get even better so I hope you'll continue with it! And, I forget, have you tried Peter Robinson's Detective Banks series? Very good. I don't think these have the "thriller" quality that the Larsson books have but they are series that really stand out.

Anna said...

I don't read too many crime thrillers, but you're right, there are tons to choose from. I'll have to add this author to my list to try at some point. Thanks for the review.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Literary Feline said...

This is yet another crime fiction series I've got on my must read list but haven't gotten to yet. I'm making progress though as I finally got around to reading my first Sanford book.