The Best Books in Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus Series
John Rebus first appeared in Knots and Crosses in 1987. Rebus once served in Britain’s elite SAS and later became an Edinburgh cop. He’s gruff and disheveled, but his messy exterior and bad habits hide a keen mind and (mostly) benevolent nature. So far, ten of the Rebus novels have been made into television movies. And the newest book, In a House of Lies, would make another great one! In it, Rebus is retired—but not for long. The skeletal remains of a private investigator who went missing a decade before have been found, stirring up old memories for Rebus and his former coworker, Siobhan Clarke. Bones aren’t the only thing that gets dug up during their investigation: as Rebus and Clarke search for clues, long-buried secrets will be revealed.
While every new Rankin novel is published to great acclaim, Rebus still deserves more recognition in the States. His clever, perfectly-plotted novels have acquired such fans as bestselling authors Tana French and Lee Child. If you have wanted to try the Rebus series, but if over a dozen of books seems a little daunting, don’t worry! Below is a list of some of the highlights from the series. The best of the best, let’s call them. These thrilling selections will give have you turning the pages long past your bedtime.
John Rebus stands accused: on trial for a crime that could put him behind bars for the rest of his life.
But what drove a good man to cross the line?
Detective Inspector Siobhan Clarke may well find out. Clarke is tasked with the city’s most explosive case in years, an infamous cop, at the center of decades of misconduct, has gone missing. Finding him will expose not only her superiors, but her mentor John Rebus. And Rebus himself may not have her own interests at heart, as the repayment of a past debt places him in the crosshairs of both crime lords and his police brethren.
One way or another, a reckoning is coming – and John Rebus may be hearing the call for last orders…
Knots and Crosses
Of course, we must begin at the beginning. In his first adventure, John Rebus is a frazzled Edinburgh cop hiding from his demons and avoiding responsibilities. But a series of grizzly murders have the city shook up, and it's looking like Rebus is the only man to solve them, despite his reticence.
Related: The Best Detective Audiobooks
Inspector John Rebus hates the yearly Edinburgh Festival, and does everything he can to avoid it, both professionally and personally. But he can't get out of attending it this year, unfortunately for him, because during the festivities, he stumbles across a body beneath the streets. As Rebus looks for the young man's killer, he runs across a brutal professional even the most hardened criminals fear.
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Black and Blue
A copycat killer nicknamed Bible Johnny is terrorizing the streets of Edinburgh, but Rebus is not on the case, thanks to office politics. Instead, he's on the outskirts of town, investigating the murder of an off-duty oilman. But as the Bible Johnny murders are feeding fears, and the press is wondering why the famous detective is nowhere to be found, Rebus must work to stay clear of the media circus if he wants to keep his job.
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Even the best detectives make mistakes. This time Rebus has messed up so badly, he has to attend a reform school for screw-ups. But even in police school, there are crimes and cover-ups, and Rebus discovers he may be being set up for a fall. He'll have to join forces with his trusted mentee, Inspector Siobhan Clarke, to figure out just how fall the conspiracy reaches before he flunks out of his career for good.
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A few days shy of retirement, Rebus is trying to tie up loose ends. But crime isn't done with him yet: he lands a new case, the murder of a dissident Russian poet. At first glance, it appears to be a mugging gone wrong, but as Rebus looks into what he hopes is the last case of his career, he uncovers a shady organization in town, looking to expand their interests. Will he be able to wrap everything up neatly before his final day?
Retired inspector Rebus is feeling restless. Civilian life doesn't exactly agree with him. So when his former coworkers turn to him for assistance, he jumps at the chance. Inspectors Clarke and Fox are investigating a murder and a series of threats, and in a turn of events, Rebus's old nemesis is looking to him for protection. Rebus will have to uncover the identity of the killer in order to help his old pals solve the case, and help his old foe keep his life.
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