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Inspector Rebus Books In Order

Publication Order of Inspector Rebus Books

Knots and Crosses (1987) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Hide and Seek (1991) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Tooth and Nail (1992) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Strip Jack (1992) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Black Book (1993) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Mortal Causes (1994) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Let It Bleed (1995) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Black and Blue (1997) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Hanging Garden (1998) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Dead Souls (1999) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Set in Darkness (2000) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Falls (2001) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Resurrection Man (2002) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Question of Blood (2003) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Fleshmarket Alley (2004) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Naming of the Dead (2006) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Exit Music (2007) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Standing in Another Man's Grave (2012) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Saints of the Shadow Bible (2014) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Even Dogs in the Wild (2016) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Rather Be The Devil (2017) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Inspector Rebus Short Stories

Death is Not the End (1998) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Inspector Rebus Collections

A Good Hanging and Other Stories (1992) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Rebus' Scotland (2004) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle


The Inspector Rebus series of detective novels written by Scottish writer Ian Rankin features the main character known as Detective Inspector John Rebus. The setting for the majority of these novels is mostly in and around Edinburgh. As of this date, ten of these books have been adapted for television.

Character Background

According to the author, John Rebus is the son of a stage hypnotist and was born in 1947. Although born and raised in Scotland, his grandfather had emigrated from Poland. John left school when he was 15 years old and decided to join the Army instead of becoming a coal miner or working at Rosyth Dockyard. He spent some time in Northern Ireland and experienced the conflict known as The Troubles, a primarily political conflict in which more than 3500 people were killed. After this, he put in his application for the Special Air Service and was selected. Rebus excelled while serving in the SAS. In fact, he was even chosen to receive further training to serve in a secretive elite program. Unfortunately, it was this training that led to his resigning from the SAS and experiencing a nervous breakdown. After John had lobbied from the Army, he took a position with Lothian and Borders Police. It took quite a period of time for him to recover from the trauma.

Personal and Professional Life

For the most part, the author has allowed the readers imagination to determine what the physical appearance of his characters might be. In the book Knots and Crosses, Inspector Rebus is described to have brown hair and green eyes. We can determine from his rough lifestyle that his clothing is usually rumpled and worn carelessly. John did marry at one point but got divorced from his ex-wife Rhona sometime in the 80s. Rhona and their daughter Samantha are frequently mentioned in the series. The novels are set in real time so the readers will see Samantha grow from a little girl to an adult.

In the book Knots and Crosses, Rebus holds the position of Detective Sgt. Sometime before the book Hide and Seek begins, he receives a promotion to Detective Inspector, which takes place about four years later. He continues to hold this position throughout the series and turns down a promotion at least once. Taking into consideration his age and coming retirement it is not very likely that he will receive another promotion.

Political Views

The character holds mostly apolitical views or perhaps they would be better described as apathetic political views. In the book Strip Jack, readers find out that John has only voted on three occasions for three different political parties. Along with his ambivalence toward politics, he also has a strong dislike of sectarianism. The sentiments have perhaps resulted from his past experiences serving as a soldier in Northern Ireland. It is also revealed that he did not take part in the Scottish devolution referendum in 1979. Readers can assume that he at times experiences guilt pangs later on when he befriends an independent advocate. This series contains several plots that feature political independence or devolution. There are also many references and settings that are centered on Scottish Parliament.

Character Influences and Personality

Inspector Rebus seems to be molded after a long tradition of hard Scottish men with a gruff and rough exterior over a more benevolent interior. John has a fierce drive to succeed in his field and identifies closely with others who are facing adversity. Although he holds a law enforcement position, his postwar upbringing has influenced him to have a distrust of authority and an intimidating personality. He is a smoker as well is a heavy drinker, which readers can usually determine by his regularly ordering a pint of beer and a whiskey. On the other hand, Inspector Rebus greatly enjoys books and music and has amassed a large record collection. His personality traits have allowed him to excel in his field but have also driven those closest to him away. This portrayal of John as a rough around the edges yet noble loner is what draws readers in.

Personal Relationships

Several romantic liaisons occur in the Inspector Rebus series, although none of these relationships last very long aside from John’s marriage. Detective Chief Superintendent Gill Templer is a character who has a short-lived relationship with Rebus and appears regularly throughout the series. John also is involved in a strong platonic relationship with Detected Sgt. Siobhan Clark, who proves to be his understudy and protégé. The longest romantic relationship occurs with Patience Aitken and lasts throughout several novels. Most of the time, his relationships are improper because they involve women who are linked to his cases. Other times women realize that Rebus is married to his job and so the relationships end based on commitment issues.

Retirement and Civilian Work

The author Ian Rankin has suggested that this character can attribute his popularity to the fact that he is an outsider so readers can sympathize with not being able to fit in well. Along with this, Rebus also seeks to focus on the greater good as he goes about solving his cases. Rebus’ retirement novel is called Exit Music but as a character he is still very much active. The author has also revealed that Inspector Rebus is involved in working on cold cases as a civilian. The book Standing in Another Man’s Grave features a return of Rebus as he goes about solving cold cases. Since the police retirement age has been increased, readers just might be able to look forward to a return of Inspector Rebus in the future.

Adaptation for Radio and TV

BBC Radio 4’s has released several dramatizations including The Falls, Resurrection Men, Strip Jack, The Black Book and Black and Blue. Abridged readings have also been broadcast of Let It Bleed, Death Is Not the End and Beggars Banquet. Television adaptations of the series are known as Rebus, in which Inspector Rebus was played by John Hanna. Later on the role was taken over by Ken Stott. This series portrays the character’s reliance on alcohol since he is often seen drinking at the Oxford Bar. His Fife accent has been softened for television, whereas in the novel Tooth and Nail, it’s apparent that his London colleagues have difficulty understanding him.

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