Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin

Orion, 2011, 227 p.

This is courtesy of my not-quite-yet-but-might-as-well-be daughter-in-law. She now has a box set of Rankin books and so this one, a 2011 reissue of a 1998 edition of the first Rebus novel from 1987, came our way.

As crime isn’t really my thing I’ve never read any Rankin before – I have encountered the TV adaptations – but I thought it might be interesting to compare this to James Oswald’s Natural Causes.

Knots and Crosses is a strange one and wears the author’s literature background heavily. An incidental character is named Laidlaw in honour of William McIlvanney’s eponymous detective (McIlvanney is a literary star worth following, an antecedent of Tartan Noir,) the words laughter and forgetting at the end of a sentence are repeated immediately as the whole of the next. To be fair the introduction to this edition admits the referencing may be over the top, not to mention the occasional off-nesses of tone (“the manumission of dreams.”)

As the book focuses firmly on getting into various characters’ heads the crimes seem almost incidental, their relationship to John Rebus forced. The climactic scene was also interrupted by an unnecessary info dump to allow an over-egged simile.

It all washes down easily enough though. I got through it in two sittings.

As far as a comparison between Oswald and Rankin is concerned perhaps the main difference is that Oswald knew he was writing in the crime genre. At the time of Knots and Crosses Rankin may have been intent on writing a novel featuring crime.

Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

free hit counter script