Episode 1. Rebus: The Black Book

Radio Times
Review by:
John Mount

It’s a mystery how Ian Rankin’s 60s rock-loving detective has managed to elude me for so long, but five minutes into this story of extortion and murder and the scent of distillery fumes and disappointment curling through Edinburgh’s shadowy side streets is palpable.

One of John Rebus’s fellow officers takes a terrible beating for getting too close to discovering the identity of a dead body found in a hotel fire years before, and when Rebus starts digging among the ashes his brother Mickey is in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Rebus may have a tendency to rhapsodise the obvious but the grainy characterisations probe the varied strata of Edinburgh society to satisfying effect and Bruce Young’s sure direction of this supple dramatisation will have me tuning in for the conclusion.

About this programme

First of Chris Dolan's two-part dramatisation of Ian Rankin's crime thriller. Maverick detective inspector John Rebus investigates when the notebook of a colleague left in a coma after a severe beating yields clues to the unsolved case of a murder victim who died from a bullet through the heart. Starring Ron Donachie.

Cast and crew


DI John Rebus
Ron Donachie
DC Siobhan Clarke
Gayanne Potter
Mickey Rebus
Steven McNicoll
DS Brian Holmes
Sean Biggerstaff
CS Watson/Ringan
Douglas Russell
Paul Young
Simon Donaldson
Angus Gibson
Richard Conlon
Shauna Macdonald
Auntie Ena
Anne Downie


Bruce Young
Dramatised By
Christopher Nolan
Bruce Young
Ian Rankin