The Inspector Rebus books are a series of novels by Ian Rankin which centre on main character Detective Inspector John Rebus and are set mostly in and around Edinburgh.
The novels are well-known for their characterisation of Edinburgh as a type of Jekyll and Hyde city as Rankin exposes the crime-ridden underbelly lurking beneath the surface of elegant Edinburgh. The series follows Rebus as he investigates various murders, disappearances, and suspicious crimes in Edinburgh and Scotland.
Ian Rankin began writing his Inspector Rebus series while at the University of Edinburgh working on his PhD. The first Rebus novel, Knots and Crosses, was published in 1986 by The Bodley House. Rankin was at first shocked when this novel was classified as crime fiction, as he’d somewhat set out to write an updated version of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (for part of the book, it is hinted that Rebus is possibly unknowingly the killer). Rankin admits to not knowing much about the crime fiction genre at the time. However, he continued to write the Rebus series, and it was with the publication of his eighth Rebus novel, Black and Blue, that his status as one of the UK’s premier crime writers was confirmed.
Throughout the novels, the reader gets to know Rebus as a rather old-fashioned cop, playing fast and loose with the rules, who loves music from the 60s and frequents the pubs, particularly the Oxford Bar on Young Street. The novels are known both for their Jekyll and Hyde representation of Edinburgh as well as Rankin’s use of real places in both Edinburgh and Scotland, bringing the novels that much closer to their readers.