Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin. Hardcover book published by The Bodley Head 1987, 169 pages. FIRST EDITION.
“A murderer is on the loose in Edinburgh and the city is horrified; murder is not part of the image of Scotland’s elegant capital. But beneath the surface of city life lurks a dark underworld of crime and twisted violence. The murderer’s victims are all young girls, and all have been strangled. The police are baffled, and none more so than Detective Sergeant John Rebus. Rebus is not the most popular man on the force, having been shuffled into the CID after leaving his crack SAS unit under very mysterious circumstances. He is also being plagued by anonymous letters, accompanied by pieces of knotted string and little crosses made from matchsticks. To cap it all, his wife has left him, taking their daughter with her.”
“Knots and Crosses” was the first Inspector Rebus novel written by Ian Rankin. It wasn't the last and the Inspector Rebus books have gone on to become a very successful series of novels closely followed by a television series, all of which (in my opinion) are worth reading and watching. Yes I have read and watched more than a few Rebus stories and those that I haven't read are in the pile next to my bed, waiting to be read. Like a lot of people I enjoy reading about the crims and crimes of Scotland. It's not that the Scots are particularly or exceptionally criminal in their criminality, it's the way that Rankin manages to spin his yarn within an increasingly familiar context. When you have read more than one Rebus book, the next one is like visiting a troubled friend who lives around the corner. I think this is why these books have become so popular.
When Knots and Crosses was published in 1987 and Rebus was a complete unknown, Rankins publishers probably wouldn't have had the foresight to publish large quantities of this the first edition, due to the financial risk of the unknown and a publishers fear of the remainder. As with many other books or series of books this means that the first edition of the first book becomes a rarity due to the smaller print run*. Rankins later books were and are published in larger numbers as he is a best selling author. This generally means that the later books in this (and other) series don't have the same rarity and $ value as the first edition of the first volume. Finding this book was a bit of an eye opener as I hadn't previously considered or sought after any of Rankins work within the context of “rare and valuable”. This was obviously an error on my behalf.
*This is of course a theory, but it does explain why this book is worth big $$$ on the interwebs.