The Inspector Rebus series of books are a series of crime fiction novels written by acclaimed Scottish author Ian Rankin. The stories revolve around, as you would expect, the character of Detective Inspector John Rebus, and are mainly focused in and around the Scottish capital city, Edinburgh. As well as being a successful series of book, there has also been a successful television adaptation of the series, which has starred both Ken Stott and John Hannah as the titular character of John Rebus, and also adapted for radio, featuring Ron Donachie in the lead role.
Order of Inspector Rebus Series
|1||Knots and Crosses||1987|
|2||Hide and Seek||1991|
|3||Tooth and Nail||1992|
|5||The Black Book||1993|
|7||Let It Bleed||1995|
|8||Black and Blue||1997|
|9||The Hanging Garden||1998|
|10||Death Is Not the End (Short Story)||1998|
|12||Set in Darkness||2000|
|15||A Question of Blood||2003|
|17||The Naming of the Dead||2006|
|19||Standing in Another Man's Grave||2012|
|20||Saints of the Shadow Bible||2013|
|21||In the Nick of Time (Short Story)||2014|
|22||Even Dogs in the Wild||2015|
|23||Rather Be the Devil||2016|
The first book in the Inspector Rebus series was published in 1987, and it was titled Knots and Crosses. It introduces Inspector Rebus as he is assigned to a team investigating the abduction and murder of two young girls in Edinburgh. During the course of the investigation, two more young girls are reported missing. It’s up to Rebus and his team to get to the bottom of it, but ghosts from John Rebus’ past in the Special Air Service continue to haunt him and this case. When the danger starts to encroach on his family, Rebus must step up his investigation before it’s too late.
It wasn’t until 1991 that the second book in the Inspector Rebus series was released, which was the novel Hide and Seek. Fans of the series did not have to wait as long for a follow up to Hide and Seek, as the third book in the Inspector Rebus series, Tooth and Nail, was released a year later in 1992. And in the same year, Strip Jack, the fourth book in the Inspector Rebus series was released. The series was gaining momentum both critically and commercially, and with a new book being released each year in the Inspector Rebus series, by the time the eight book in the series, Black and Blue, was released in 1997, the series had gained a massive following.
It was the 1997 release, Black and Blue, that finally gained the attention of the awards societies. Not only did Black and Blue get on the short list for the 1997 Edgar Award for best novel, but it won the 1997 CWA Gold Dagger for Fiction. And to capitalise on this success, Black and Blue was also the first television adaptation in the Inspector Rebus series, with John Hannah taking the lead role in 2000. The story in Black and Blue sees Rebus working on four cases, which he believes may be the work of the notorious (and real-life) killer, Bible John, although the press are claiming it is actually someone they are calling Johnny Bible. Detective Inspector Rebus must also try and close all four cases while being investigated in an internal inquiry by a man holding a personal grudge against him, as well as having journalists scrutinise his every move.
Rankin kept up his yearly releases of Rebus novels, until 2007, and the release of Exit Music which was seen as Rebus’ ‘retirement’, as he had reached the age of 60, which is the pensionable age in the police force. However, after taking five years off, Rankin had Rebus return in Standing In Another Man’s Grave in 2012, and followed that up with Saints of the Shadow Bible in 2013 and then Even Dogs in the Wild in 2015, ending five years in the wilderness for his much-loved hero.
Written in the third person limited omniscient perspective, the Inspector Rebus books are almost exclusively told from the perspective of John rebus, though some books have been known to shift the view to Rebus’ colleagues and even the criminals, but only for a short period of time.
Described as a hardboiled series, the Inspector Rebus Books take place in and around Edinburgh, and they rarely paint Scotland in a positive light, highlighting issues like poverty and corruption, not to mention organized crime.
Because Inspector Rebus is always bending the rules, the books often force him to confront the difficulties of internal police politics. His personal issues are also a driving factor of the series.
Like every old-fashioned detective, Inspector Rebus isn’t very good at managing life. He often bottles things up only to see them blow up in his face over time, especially when it comes to his relationships with his daughter, ex-girlfriend, sometimes girlfriend and a wife from whom he is separated, not to mention his boss.
The Inspector Rebus books are connected to one another, and references will be made to cases and occurrences from previous books. However, Ian Rankin writes the novels in such a way that they can be read as standalones.
The author has been commended for creating complex plots that span numerous characters.
Inspector Rebus was first introduced to readers in Knots and Crosses. He was described as a former member of the British SAS who is forced to confront a killer terrorizing his community even as he hides from his memories and struggles with the stagnant nature of his career.
Ian Rankin didn’t set out to write crime novels and was quite surprised when his first book in the Inspector Rebus series was classified as genre fiction.
Inspector Rebus Awards
Ian Rankin has been awarded a number of accolades for his efforts in writing the Inspector Rebus series, this including Spoken Word Awards, a Chandler-Fulbright Award, a Palle Rosencrantz Prize, the Whodunit prize, Grand Prix du Roman Noir and even an Edgar Award to mention but a few.
The author has also won awards for his work on the television adaptation of the Inspector Rebus series.
Inspector Rebus Books into Movies/TV
Inspector Rebus was adapted into a television drama in 2000 featuring John Hannah as Inspector Rebus. Hannah was eventually replaced by Ken Scott. The television show, which was produced by STV, created for the ITV network, ran for four series.
The novels were also dramatized for radio by BBC Radio 4, and they featured Ron Donachie as Inspector Rebus.
Best Inspector Rebus Books
Ian Rankin has written so many books in his Rebus series that ranking them all often presents a challenge, though these are usually mentioned among the best:
Knots and Crosses: John Rebus might have left his life as a British SAS agent in the past, but the past isn’t so keen on letting him be. Even as he attempts to flee from his memories and as the promotions keep passing him buy, Rebus cannot afford to take his head out of the game, not when there is a killer terrorizing his community.
This book, the first in the Inspector Rebus series, puts John Rebus on the case of a series of kidnappings. A number of girls have gone missing, only to be found murdered in and around Edinburgh. Rebus thinks the murders might have something to do with the letters he has been getting in the post.
Hide and Seek: When a junkie seemingly dies of an overdose in a crumbling housing development, Rebus wants to dismiss the incident as an accident. But he thinks the signs of satanic worship are evidence of something more.
With a bright and conflicted detective by his side, Rebus works to track down the young girl who heard the dead junkie’s last words.
This book finds Rebus having been promoted to Inspector and the new position has definitely had an effect on him. But Rebus cannot afford to grow distracted, not with the new superintendent having dragged him into his mission to deal with the city’s growing drug problem.
Other Book Series You May Like
“Hamish Macbeth” Series by M.C. Beacon. These books follow a clever Police Sergeant by the names of Hamish Macbeth who solves crimes in Lochdubh, a remote village in the Scottish Highlands. The Hazel-eyed Hamish has a reputation for being lazy and does everything to sabotage any opportunities for promotion that come his way, though he still gets the job done.
“Inspector Wexford” Series by Ruth Rendell. These books follow the exploits of a chief inspector in Sussex, England by the names of Reginald Wexford. Reginald is an intelligent man with a sensitive personality. He works with DI Mike Burden to solve crimes.
Inspector Rebus FAQs
Q: Who writes the Inspector Rebus series of books?
A: The Inspector Rebus series of books is written by Scottish author Ian Rankin.
Q: What is the first book in the Inspector Rebus series?
A: The first book in the Inspector Rebus series if Knots and Crosses, which was released in 1987.
Q: Who stars as Inspector Rebus on television?
A: The character of Inspector Rebus has been played by John Hannah and also Ken Stott.
Q: Where are the Inspector Rebus books set?
A: The Inspector Rebus series of books are mostly set in the Scottish city of Edinburgh.