Wednesday, 6 March 2013

GUEST REVIEW // Knots & Crosses + Hide & Seek - Ian Rankin

Guest review from Brianna!

Published:  1987 and 1991
Publisher: Orion
Format: Paperback

This is a review of the first two Inspector Rebus books by Ian Rankin (don’t ask me why both together, I don’t know) Knots & Crosses and Hide & Seek.
I’ve been curious about reading Ian Rankin’s books for a couple of years, since I was told that they were supposedly good and that they are set in Edinburgh, a city which means a lot to me. So I thought I’d take a risk and buy the first 5 Inspector Rebus books.
The first thing that struck me about the books was that they were written in the 80’s (Hide & Seek was written in 91 though, just go with it), and no I don’t make a habit of reading the publication dates when I pick up books. I had no need to; it is obvious when these books are set/written. The police records are all physical files, computers are mentioned but sparsely, smoking is just a fact of life but mostly it just has that feel of being slightly out of date, and it is an authentic feel - probably down to the fact that it was written in the 80’s and for the most part it was really refreshing to read. It’s nice not to hear about the internet or mobile phones for once.  Ian Rankin is also very detailed in his description of Edinburgh, he doesn’t try to polish it up or make it seem beautiful. He gives a realistic view, sometimes pretty, but like all cities for the most part it’s just not made of gold. If you are familiar with the city it should add extra to your enjoyment as he names the places and streets that the characters go to, even the pub where Rebus drinks is a real pub.
I really enjoyed reading both books, but unlike other detective/mystery solving novels I’ve read, these weren’t fast paced books. It took a while in Knots & Crosses for the case to pick up any momentum or make any progress, but once it does, it moves at a much faster pace. Hide & Seek however takes until after the halfway point for the case to even become a case. This slow pace however doesn’t detract from the story and it’s not so slow that you forget what’s going on and I still felt the need to pick it up again regularly.

Knots & Crosses and Hide & Seek are both written from the point of view of several of the characters. I really like the way Ian Rankin has done this as you hardly ever have the point of view of a character you have not previously met: For example from Rebus’s POV you meet McCall, you then later have McCall’s POV where you meet another character. So in a way you get introduced to them beforehand (the times where you have the POV of someone you haven’t met yet are generally in the prologue or the very start).
As for the characters themselves, I like Rebus (which I suppose is fortunate as he is pretty central) he is realistically human he’s no angel but he has morals, and those who commit crimes need to see justice, and what more do you want from a policeman? And throughout the book he is always investigating, always noticing little things even when it’s not work related. I really like Tracy in Hide & Seek as well as Brian Holmes who I hope becomes a recurring character in later Rebus books. I don’t think there is anyone I particularly don’t like although I did take an instant dislike of Rebus’s brother.
Overall I would definitely recommend these books; they are well written the characters are well developed and realistic and most importantly, they kept me guessing, Knots & Crosses was a little predictable but I was still kept guessing and Hide & Seek definitely didn’t end the way I expected.

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