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Publisher's Summary

'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.

©2008 Ian Rankin (P)2011 Orion Publishing Limited

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • connie
  • Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • 10-02-11

not as dark as his reputation

I've stayed away form Rankin previously because of his reputation for dark tales. While this was certainly not cozy, neither was it gruesome. Interesting character, narrative and atmosphere - almost in a league with PD James. If the other Rebus audiobooks are this engrossing, I'll soon use up my remaining annual credits - and between Rankin and McCall Smith, I'm developing an obsession to visit Edinburgh.

The narration was excellent, and looking ahead, I'm disappointed that Macpherson is not narrating the rest of the series.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Good story well narrated

This is my first Ian Rankin book, and I enjoyed it enough to immediately buy his next one after I finished it. The story is original and interesting, and the narrator is excellent! He manages to tell the story with a fine Scottish accent that fits the setting of the story very well, and at the same time be clear enough to be easily understandable to me as a non-native English speaker.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-29-16

Great Debut!

Living in Edinburgh and having worked in the Central Library featured in this book, i found the story very close to home. This was my first Ian Rankin book and i have to say i really enjoyed it. I look forward to reading more about John Rebus.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Alexander Redpath
  • 12-02-15

great start to the series

after only recently stumbling across the rebus series, where better to start than the first book. I'm hooked already and I'm on book 7 within a month.

narration is excellent and really completes the package. only negative, the book seems quite short as do the first few rebus books, thankfully 7 and 8 appear longer and I feel I'm getting more for my audible credits.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Chris Cassidy
  • 08-24-16

Great intro to John Rebus

interesting enjoyable story line and intro into the Rebus series. looking forward to the next one

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Simon
  • 09-02-15

An uncertain beginning

This is the first of the Rebus novels and a relatively gentle introduction to the character, his flaws, his strengths and many of the themes that run through the whole series. These of course includes the vividly described Edinburgh, a struggle against authority, no little dark humour and the demons set to haunt Rebus across the coming decades.

Although expertly narrated by James Macpherson the story is not the best of Rebus, not the most chilling and possibly lacks a little in the usual length and depth. This is a series and character that grows in integrity and intensity as the series develops. It's a good enough start though and anyone new to the series is well advised to begin their journey into Rebus's mind here rather than with a later novel.

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • Debbie King
  • 04-18-15

My first Rebus - and definitely not my last!

Would you consider the audio edition of Knots and Crosses to be better than the print version?

Yes. James MacPherson's excellent narration really brought it to life, and I became really immersed in the story.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Rebus of course! I felt sorry for him, the hard-bitten cop with a messy divorce and haunted by the demons of his past. I was rooting for him all the way through the story.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The part where Michael (his brother) hynotises him and he regresses to his army days - I don't want to say too much and spoil it for people who don't know the story. I listened to that chapter twice!

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Yes - I was saddened by the scene with Gordon, I didn't want that to happen. I thought it was an awful moral issue.

Any additional comments?

Thoroughly enjoyed this and am looking forward to listening to more in the Rebus series. Also liked listening to James MacPherson's voice - I would buy other audio-books read by him.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Kevin
  • 12-24-12

New to Rebus

I've heard a lot about this Rebus character but never read any of Rankins' books. This is a good introduction and really fleshes out the character and plot. Good interpretation by Macpherson and quality recording. Shall now download book 2!

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • M.A.
  • 06-16-16

ian Rankin at his best

The plot got more interesting as it went on.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a real down to earth British detective story.

The narration was good however i sometimes didn't realise who was who. Perhaps because it was all Scottish accents.

Overall a thoroughly good read.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Don
  • 07-07-14

An enjoyable read

This is my first Ian Rankin and Rebus novel and I really enjoyed it. It is a good punchy novel that moves along at a good pace while still doing a good job of developing and introducing characters.

The reading was excellent and it was a joy to listen to the Scottish accent. I have read a lot of US and Australian crime novels and this was a pleasant change, I look forward to following on with this series.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Laurence Fossey
  • 04-13-13

The first 4 covered !!!

Having seen an interview with Ian Rankin I decided I'd start from scratch and listen to the whole series. I really enjoyed this book and James Macpherson narrates this and the second book really well. The character is introduced really well and Edinburgh invocatively described. Thoroughly enjoyed

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-13-13

Good introduction to Rebus

With a character driven piece, the key to the Audio book is the narrator, and this one left me really looking forward to more. Very invocative of Edinburgh, and generally an involving and interesting read. Thoroughly enjoyed

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Julia
  • 05-05-16

Not sure about this series yet

I thought this book lacked depth of characters, I would have liked the story to focus a little more on the girls who were abducted both on their back story and means of abduction, I think this book was supposed to be a introduction to the main character but it wouldn't have hurt to evolve more of the story as this was quite a short book and also as a audio book I found it hard to distinguish between the Scottish accents, they all sounded the same to me, its a shame because I heard it was a good series and now I'm undecided if I would buy the next book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Jacqui
  • 06-29-16

Great Story - Terrible Narrator !

Is there anything you would change about this book?

Yes the narrator.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Unfortunately no-one really stood out as likeable as yet. Given its the first in a series so maybe the characters need time to develop.

Who might you have cast as narrator instead of James Macpherson?

Having previously listen to one of Ian Rankin's Fox novel narrated by Peter Forbes, James McPhersons narration lacks depth and subtlety. His intonations are extremely off putting and I don't know if I'll be able to get past them to enjoy another of Ian Rankin's excellent stories on Audible. McPherson tries to make his voice the star instead of Ian's characters.

Was Knots and Crosses worth the listening time?

Yes, because its an excellent story and series in the making.

Any additional comments?

I think I'll be reading the rest of the series instead of listening, all due to the narration.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Julia
  • 10-01-17

Crime + PTSD Disassociation

Trigger Warnings: This book contains scenes I would describe as torture and military violence, as two characters are treated like Prisoners of War in a Terrorist Camp, the actions in those scenes are described in graphic detail.

~Two Lines, No Waiting: There are two main plots going on this novel: the first one is the missing persons/murder case and the second plot is the drug trade operation that Rebus’s brother is involved in. From the beginning, the two plots don’t seem related at all, but as the novel progresses, the reader discovers just how interconnected these two plots are.
The plotting in general is phenomenal, all of the flashbacks and things mentioned link back to each other. In saying that, I do feel as though Rebus’s confusion and hesitation to seek out a hypnotist in the first place was a little drawn out, it could have been sped up a little.

~Multiple Points of View: Ian Rankin, while excellent at plot, is very character-orientated and If there is one detraction from this novel is that there are so many points of view. Some of them are necessary to further the plot, but some of the alternative points of view (like the reporter) helped to slow down the pace of the plot, rather than make the story more complicated and interesting, however, I’m willing to recognise that this could just be me. Maybe the reporter character has more relevance in later books.

~A Product of It’s Time: While it’s pretty clear early on that Inspector John Rebus is suffering from PTSD, the reader isn’t privy to all the details at first, but over the course of the novel, the PTSD and Dissociation that Rebus has been experiencing is explained (let’s just say, shit gets dark very quickly).
Nowadays, there are rules and procedures put in place to prevent this sort of situation from occurring. People in Rebus’s line of work (including social workers and nurses) would be given regular psyche evaluations and regular therapy sessions to manage PTSD (or at least this is the case in Australia).

All in all, it has a great plot, combined with an in-depth look at an interesting main-character, which has resulted in a great start to an interesting Scottish Crime series, I’m looking forward to Hide and Seek, the second book in the series.

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  • HoneyBunny
  • 09-12-17

Enter the world of Rebus.

What did you like most about Knots and Crosses?

I liked finding out the personal history of Rebus which I hadnt known about before.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Knots and Crosses?

When Rebus saves his daughter

What does James Macpherson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

The accent makes the characters seem more real to me.