Books, Essay, Reviews

JOHN REBUS- An Uncontrollable Persistence

According to Ian Rnakin, John Rebus was born in 1947, brought up in Fife, has roots from Poland, by a stage hypnotist. In 1987, Rankin’s novel Knots & Crosses introduced us to the tough Edinburgh Detective Sergeant.

Rebus, to me, is a hypnotist himself. I sometimes feel that he has inherited his father’s abilities even not following the profession. He takes a reader’s conscience bit by bit and hypnotize him until that reader is plunging in the darkness of John Rebus. He’s the surreal Scotsman, the more you hate, the more you will end up loving him.

Ian Rankin prefers to leave the physical appearance of his characters to the reader’s imagination, although when Rebus is first introduced in Knots and Crosses, we learn that he has brown hair and green eyes. His enisle lifestyle means that his clothes are often less than immaculate. He was married, but divorced sometime in the 1980s. His ex-wife and his daughter appear frequently in the novels both as human and ghosts of past.

John Rebus 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.

The depth given by Ian Rankin in this character’s mind is enchanting. A great deal happens in his life, His relationship with his daughter has ups and downs, his relationships with girlfriends have downs and downs, he incarcerates Big Ger Cafferty and then more than once depends on favours done him by the gangster, he gets into varyingly severe degrees of trouble with his bosses, and has friends and colleagues get into all sorts of difficulties around him, and through all this is essentially unchanged. Stubbornness is Rebus’s most deep-seated characteristic. All the various ways in which he could improve the quality of his life – which boil down essentially to his being less impossible are somehow unthinkable. He stands in everybody else’s way, but he stands in his own way too; difficult, determined, remorseless, honorable, honest, and proud of his lack of charm. The complexity of Rebus’ surroundings and his own mind is at the same level as yours or mine.

Rebus’ life is full of twists and turns, some are the creation of his own actions along with jeopardizing investigations he often involved. Juggling with multiple matters at a time, Rebus taught me how to look at different subjects from various perspectives at the same time and find an optimal way tackle those subjects. If inept, get on with the some Scotch and a bit of Jazz music.

Rebus is one of the best companion in one’s darkest times. He has been mine. It has been three years since we met and our paths keep on coinciding with each other through time. Mingling with his own ghosts and creepy past, he will make you feel complete only if you allow him some space in the back of your mind.

Rebus is now 19 novels old, and yes of course, some short stories too. Rankin is fabulous in plotting. In real-time, Rebus is growing old. And there are few skeletons still left in his closet. I am eagerly looking forward to which skeletons the author will allow his reader’s to perceive.

Titles like Set In Darkness, Saints of the Shadow Bible, Hide & Seek, Fleshmarket Close are just some of the glimpses. A complete collection of Rebus short stories called The Beat Goes On, was released earlier this month.

John Rebus is a fabulation and one of the best intoxicant out there.


Essay appreciated by Mr. Ian Rankin himself:

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18 thoughts on “JOHN REBUS- An Uncontrollable Persistence”

      1. My wife wants me to add that she’s a huge Rebus fan. She thinks she’s read them all, but has an eye out for the next one.

        By the way, the author, Ian Rankin, is quite a story in his own right. Now there’s a man who had to overcome tremendous obstacles–no money, very sick child, and so on.

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