Novelist and Poet

I love a good thriller. 

Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin and As So It Begins by Rachel Abbott are two books that provided the page-turning suspense that kept me reading but still managed to leave me disappointed.

The main reason is I need characters I can like and root for throughout the book. Please give me one, at least.

It’s particularly distressing when I think there’s one, but it turns out in the end that they all suck. 

My reviews for these will be short.

Detective John Rebus: His city is being terrorized by a baffling series of murders…and he’s tied to a maniac by an invisible knot of blood. Once John Rebus served in Britain’s elite SAS. Now he’s an Edinburgh cop who hides from his memories, misses promotions and ignores a series of crank letters. But as the ghoulish killings mount and the tabloid headlines scream, Rebus cannot stop the feverish shrieks from within his own mind. Because he isn’t just one cop trying to catch a killer, he’s the man who’s got all the pieces to the puzzle…

Knots and Crosses introduces a gifted mystery novelist, a fascinating locale and the most compellingly complex detective hero at work today.

My review: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

I know Ian Rankin is good. So many people recommend his work. I also know Knots and Crosses was not the best example of why he is popular.

The main character in Knots and Crosses , Detective John Rebus, does not seem to do much of anything but drink and get laid. He didn’t solve any crimes, let alone the main one. There was nothing to like about him and plenty to not like. Oh, there is sufficient reason to feel sorry for him. I felt sorry for the victims, too, and, of course, I rooted for the ones still alive, but it’s not as if you get to know them. I liked the book, sure. I just needed more.

Mark and Evie had a whirlwind romance. Evie brought Mark back to life after the sudden death of his first wife. Cleo, Mark’s sister, knows she should be happy for him. But Cleo doesn’t trust Evie…

When Evie starts having accidents at home, her friends grow concerned. Could Mark be causing her injuries? Called out to their cliff-top house one night, Sergeant Stephanie King finds two bodies entangled on blood-drenched sheets.

Where does murder begin? When the knife is raised to strike, or before, at the first thought of violence? As Evie stands trial, the jury is forced to consider – is there ever a proper defence for murder?

And So It Begins is a darkly compulsive psychological thriller with all the hallmarks of a Rachel Abbott bestseller – a provocative dilemma, richly-layered mystery, knife-edge tension, and brilliant characterization.

My review: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

This book I liked a lot. Rachel Abbott is a wonderful storyteller, and As So It Begins is a well-written page-turner. I hated the twist and the ending for personal reasons, but I can’t get into that without spoilers.

What I can say is, the detective here, Stephanie King, is nowhere near as interesting as the people involved in the mystery that unfolds. (This is her series, and she is the star, but you’d never know it.) She turns up now and then and mostly worries about her love life. I feel like the whole story could have happened without her minimal involvement. A couple of minor characters impressed me, but, as I mentioned above, I want to root for at least one of the main characters.

As an aside, I’m reading another of Rachel Abbott’s books right now called The Invitation, and I love it, but now that I’m many chapters deep into the book, Detective Stephanie King emerges once again.

Hopefully, she makes a better impression here than in the last book.

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