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The Rebus novels are a series of crime books written by Scottish writer Ian Rankin. They are mostly set in Edinburgh (although the third book, "Tooth and Nail" [1] is set in London) and centre around Detective Inspector John Rebus, a cynical policeman, who served in the Army before the novels start.

Some of the books have been adapted for television, originally starring John Hanna, before Ken Stott took over the role, and others have been turned into radio plays for Radio Four.

There are seventeen novels in the series, and several other short stories.

Tropes Found In The Rebus Books:

  • Always Murder: Somewhat justified - Rebus deals with murders exclusively (well, a few cases start off as missing persons...) but as a senior detective, that is pretty much what his workload would be.
  • Cowboy Cop: Rebus is less inclined to use physical violence than your average Cowboy Cop (although he's not entirely above it), but certainly has little place for rules and procedures when they stop him getting his man.
  • Defective Detective: Rebus has all the stereotypical personal problems associated with being a detective, ranging from what looks like PTSD in the earliest novels to excessive drinking.
  • Dirty Cop: Rebus is sometimes seen as one due to his closer-than-really-acceptable relationship with gangster Gerald "Big Ger" Cafferty.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Rankin has said that Rebus' interests in the early books (jazz music, in particular) were there because that's what Rankin was into, and as the novels progressed, Rebus developed more of his own personality.
  • The Gump: In The Naming of the Dead, Rebus and Siobhan Clarke have an interesting encounter with an unnamed President.
  • My Local: Rebus particularly enjoys spending his off hours in The Oxford Bar, a real pub in Edinburgh.
  • Old Cop, Young Cop: Rebus and Siobhan
  • Religious Bruiser: One of the police officers spends his downtime preaching on street corners.
    • In the first few novels, Rebus himself, when he's still a self-identified Christian.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: Exit Music, the final novel in the series, is set around the G8 conference in Gleneagles and the anti-poverty protests it prompted in Edinburgh.


  1. aka "Wolfman"
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