World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Inspector Rebus

Article Id: WHEBN0003224600
Reproduction Date:

Title: Inspector Rebus  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: The Falls (Rankin novel), Dead Souls (Rankin novel), Let It Bleed (novel), Novel in Scotland, Literature in modern Scotland
Collection: Edinburgh Literature, Scottish Literature, Series of Books
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Inspector Rebus

The Inspector Rebus books are a series of detective novels by the Scottish author Ian Rankin. The novels, centred on the title character Detective Inspector John Rebus, are mostly based in and around Edinburgh.


  • Content and style 1
  • Personal life of DI John Rebus 2
  • Publishing history 3
    • Novels 3.1
    • Short stories 3.2
    • Collections 3.3
    • Also 3.4
    • Audiobooks 3.5
  • Television and radio adaptations 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Content and style

The books are written in third person limited omniscient mode, focusing on Rebus, with the point of view sometimes shifting to colleagues, petty criminals or suspects. The stories belong to the genre of police procedural detective fiction, with a hardboiled aspect that has led to them being dubbed 'Tartan Noir'.

All the novels involve murders, suspicious deaths or disappearances, with Rebus taking on the task of solving the mystery. The resulting investigation (or investigations) depict a stark, uncompromising picture of Scotland, characterised by organised crime. Along the way, Rebus has to struggle with internal police politics, a struggle exacerbated by his tendency to bend the rules and ignore his superiors. He also has to deal with his own personal issues, which are often directly or indirectly related to the current investigation, risking further friction with his colleagues.

Rankin has won critical praise for his elaborate and inventive plots. In particular, the later books have multiple plotlines encompassing dozens of distinctive characters and locations. These span a broad spectrum of Scotland, including council estates, tenements, business districts, nightclubs, prisons, dying mining towns, secluded villages and desolate hillsides, as well as the better-known pubs and streets of Edinburgh. Some of these locations are fictional, although they may be based on real places. For example, the Pilmuir estate is a conflation of the two real Edinburgh locations Pilton and Muirhouse. Other locations, such as the Oxford Bar, Arden Street, and St Leonards police station, are real. Frequent references to real places, or local politics firmly ground the Rebus series in the real world.

Another strong feature of the series is the continual linking between the books. This may be in reference to background, previous cases and storylines, or through the characters Rebus encounters, for example, the notorious Edinburgh crime lord 'Big Ger' Cafferty. Rankin does this in such a way that reading them in order, or a prior knowledge of the Rebus 'history' is not required. Everything is explained in enough detail in order not to confuse new readers, but does not become repetitive for extensive readers of the series.

Personal life of DI John Rebus

John Rebus is an old-fashioned man who bottles things up and lets them affect his personal life. Apart from his daughter Sammy (Samantha Rebus) he has four women in his life: Rhona his separated wife; Patience Aitken, his ex-girlfriend; Gill Templer, his immediate boss and sometime girlfriend; and Jean Burchill, lady friend and friend of Gill Templer, who first appears in The Falls. His protege is DS Siobhan Clarke, with whom he does not have a romantic relationship.

While John Rebus is old fashioned in his choices and opinions, he is not a bigot. This comes to the fore clearly in Fleshmarket Close. In this novel, Rebus also reveals that his grandfather came from Poland.

Rebus is a fan of 1960s popular music. He often connects situations with an apt song from the 1960s.

Publishing history

The Inspector Rebus series is extremely popular, accounting for 10% of all crime book sales in the UK . The books now routinely sell half a million copies within the first three months of printing, and have been translated into 26 languages . They are currently published in the UK by the Orion Publishing Group. The seventeenth was thought to be the last as Rebus turned sixty, the age of retirement for CID officers,[1] but at the Hay Festival in June 2012 Rankin announced a further book entitled Standing in Another Man's Grave subsequently released in November 2012.[2] Saints of the Shadow Bible was published in 2013.


  1. Knots and Crosses (1987)
  2. Hide and Seek (1991)
  3. Tooth and Nail (original title Wolfman) (1992)
  4. Strip Jack (1992)
  5. The Black Book (1993)
  6. Mortal Causes (1994)
  7. Let it Bleed (1996)
  8. Black and Blue (1997)
  9. The Hanging Garden (1998)
  10. Dead Souls (1999)
  11. Set in Darkness (2000)
  12. The Falls (2001)
  13. Resurrection Men (2002)
  14. A Question of Blood (2003)
  15. Fleshmarket Close (published in the USA as Fleshmarket Alley) (2004)
  16. The Naming of the Dead (2006)
  17. Exit Music (2007)
  18. Standing in Another Man's Grave (2012)
  19. Saints of the Shadow Bible (2013)
  20. Even Dogs in the Wild (2015)

Short stories

  • 'A Good Hanging' and Other Stories (1992) - short stories
    • "Playback" (1990) - first published in Winter's Crimes 22
    • "The Dean Curse"
    • "Being Frank"
    • "Concrete Evidence"
    • "Seeing Things"
    • "A Good Hanging"
    • "Tit for Tat"
    • "Not Provan"
    • "Sunday"
    • "Auld Lang Syne"
    • "The Gentleman's Club"
    • "Monstrous Trumpet"
  • Death Is Not the End (1998) - novella
  • Beggars Banquet (2002) - short stories (includes seven Rebus stories and Death Is Not the End)
    • "Trip Trap" (1992) - first published in 1st Culprit
    • "Facing the Music" (1994) - first published in Midwinter Mysteries 4
    • "Talk Show" (1991) - first published in Winter's Crimes 23
    • "Castle Dangerous" (1993) - first published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Oct. 1993
    • "In the Frame" (1992) - first published in Winter's Crimes 24
    • "Window of Opportunity" (1995) - first published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Dec. 1995
    • "No Sanity Clause" (2000) - first published in the Daily Telegraph, Dec. 2000
  • "Tell Me Who To Kill" (2003) - short story, first published in Mysterious Pleasures, a collection celebrating fifty years of the Crime Writers' Association
  • "Saint Nicked" (2004) Published In The Best British Mysteries Volume 1
  • "Atonement" (2005) - short story, first published in The Complete Short Stories


  • Rebus - The Early Years [Knots and Crosses, Hide and Seek, Tooth and Nail]
  • Rebus - The St. Leonards' Years [Strip Jack, The Black Book, Mortal Causes]
  • Rebus - The Lost Years [Let it Bleed, Black and Blue, The Hanging Garden]
  • Rebus - Capital Crimes [Dead Souls, Set in Darkness, The Falls]
  • Rebus - Three Great Novels [Resurrection Men, A Question of Blood, Fleshmarket Close] (June 2008)
  • The Complete Short Stories ['A Good Hanging' and Other Stories, Beggars Banquet, Atonement]


  • Rebus's Scotland - A Personal Journey.
  • New Edinburgh Crimes by Ian Rankin - containing the short stories "Playback" and "Talk Show", published in Japan (1996)


All of the Rebus novels are available as audiobooks, some in several versions: narrated by different people or in abridged and unabridged form. Narrators include:

Three of the novels have won Spoken Word Awards: Strip Jack (Gold), A Question of Blood and Resurrection Men (Silver).

An innovative new design, the illustrated audiobook was created for Rebus's Scotland (the CD box contains a 32-page booklet containing photographs from the book).

Television and radio adaptations

For main article, see Rebus (TV series)

Thirteen of the novels were dramatised for television between 2000 and 2007 in four series of Rebus. John Hannah played Inspector Rebus in the first series, before being replaced by Ken Stott for the next three. Series four of the program also included an original episode, which unlike the other thirteen episodes aired, was not based on any of the Rankin novels. It was entitled "The First Stone".

Ron Donachie starred as Rebus in BBC Radio 4's dramatizations of The Falls (2008), Resurrection Men (2008), Strip Jack (2010), The Black Book (2012) and Black and Blue (2013), having previously played Rebus's Chief Constable in the TV series.

See also


  1. ^ Rankin goes home to plot Rebus's end | News | Guardian Unlimited Books
  2. ^ Rebus to make return appearance in new Ian Rankin novel BBC News

External links

  • Ian Rankin
  • Rebus and Rankin at
  • Rampant Scotland Article
  • The Oxford Bar
  • Rebus Tours
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.