List of Inspector Rebus characters

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This is a list of characters from the Inspector Rebus series of detective novels by the Scottish writer Ian Rankin. They are all fictional characters that have appeared in more than one novel in the series. A number of the characters appeared in the television adaptations made for ITV.



Detective Inspector John Rebus

Detective Inspector John Rebus is the protagonist in the Inspector Rebus series. He was born in 1947 in Fife and left school at the age of fifteen to join the Army. After serving in Northern Ireland he applied to undergo selection for the SAS, but after a horrendous ordeal in training, left the army and joined the Lothian and Borders Police.

He is initially introduced as a Detective Sergeant, and is promoted to Detective Inspector early in the series.

Detective Sergeant Siobhan Clarke

Detective Sergeant Siobhan Clarke (Shiv) is the secondary protagonist in the Rebus series. Her given name is represented in IPA /ʃɨˈvɔːn/. She first appears in The Black Book as a newly promoted Detective Constable. She is the more technically minded of the two detectives, and often has to do much of the legwork for Rebus. She is promoted to Detective Sergeant by the time of Resurrection Men . In the television dramatisations, Clarke was first played by Gayanne Potter, and Claire Price in the later series.

Clarke is younger than most of her colleagues, and her English background, degree and middle-class, left-wing parents set her apart from the other officers on the force. Despite this she has gained Rebus's friendship, with occasional hints of romantic interest. She is a devoted follower of the Hibernian Football Club (hibs).

As the Rebus series progresses, DS Clarke plays an increasing role, often working with the protagonist DI Rebus in his cases, but she also has her own secondary cases to work as well. After Rebus rejoins the police as a DS, she is a DI and is his superior in Saints of the Shadow Bible.

In A Song for the Dark Times she is involved with divorced colleague DCI Graham Sutherland, but takes a weeks' leave to help Rebus move downstairs to his new ground floor flat.

Detective Chief Superintendent Gill Templer

Detective Chief Superintendent Gill Templer is a regular character in Rebus series. She first appears in Knots and Crosses as a Detective Inspector. She and Rebus have a short-lived relationship. Later, she is promoted to Detective Chief Inspector in Let it Bleed and to Detective Chief Superintendent just before The Falls .

Assistant Chief Constable Colin Carswell

Assistant Chief Constable Colin Carswell is the chief officer with overall responsibility for crime in Lothian and Borders Police. He disapproves of Rebus's methods.

Detective Chief Superintendent Thomas "Farmer" Watson

Detective Chief Superintendent Thomas Watson, nicknamed "The Farmer" was the senior detective in charge of Edinburgh CID based at St Leonards police station. He retires shortly before The Falls.

Detective Chief Inspector Bill Pryde

Detective Chief Inspector Bill Pryde was the Chief Inspector at St Leonards CID before its closure. He is introduced as a Detective Inspector and is promoted prior to Resurrection Men.

Detective Chief Inspector Graham Sutherland

DCI Graham Sutherland from Glasgow is the colleague several rungs above her and lover of Shiv Clarke in A Song for the Dark Times . He asked her to move in with him, but she said I'll have to think about it. He is divorced but signs of his ex-wife linger, an she doubted he had bothered to buy a new bed.

Chief Inspector Lauderdale

Chief Inspector Lauderdale is described as Rebus's superior so presumably a Detective Chief Inspector, and as a "bigot"; Rebus winds him up whenever he can and calls him "the Clockwork Orangeman" behind his back. [1] Once when Rebus replied "Right you are, sir" Lauderdale sat in a daze "he'd said it! Rebus had actually ended a sentence with 'sir'!" [2]

Detective Inspector Claverhouse

Detective Inspector Claverhouse is a police officer based at the Lothian and Borders Police headquarters at Fettes as part of the Scottish Crime Squad. He works in partnership with DS Ormiston and is nicknamed "Bloody Claverhouse". He is tall and thin with sandy hair, and fond of country and western music.

Detective Inspector "Shug" Davidson

Detective Inspector "Shug" Davidson is a police officer based at Torphichen Street police station in Edinburgh.

Detective Inspector Bobby Hogan

Detective Inspector Bobby Hogan is a police officer based at Leith police station. He is a friend of Rebus.

Inspector Malcolm Fox

Inspector Malcolm Fox is an Inspector with the Lothian and Borders Complaints and Conduct (or Professional Standards) Department, although in Saints of the Shadow Bible when he is about to return to the CID as a DI he develops a rapport with Rebus. He is the main protagonist in the Inspector Malcolm Fox series, The Complaints and The Impossible Dead. A major character in Rather Be the Devil to A Song for the Dark Times with Clarke and a retired Rebus, he has moved to the Major Crime Division at "Gartcosh" the Scottish Crime Campus.

Detective Inspector Derek Linford

Detective Inspector Derek Linford is a police officer based at the Lothian and Borders Police headquarters at Fettes. He dates Siobhan Clarke, but they split up after she discovers he is spying on her. He is an acolyte of Colin Carswell.

Detective Inspector Jack Morton

Detective Inspector Jack Morton is a police officer from Falkirk, and a close friend of Rebus. Rebus re-establishes their friendship during Black and Blue when he meets him during an investigation. Morton helps him give up alcohol and helps him re-decorate his apartment. Rebus invites him onto an undercover operation in The Hanging Garden in which Morton is shot in the chest and killed.

Detective Inspector Stefan Gilmour

Detective Inspector Stefan Gilmour is at Summerhill police station and when Rebus joins the force he learns the ropes from Gilmour. [3]

Detective Sergeant Brian Holmes

Detective Sergeant Brian Holmes is a police officer who first appears in the novel Hide and Seek in the rank of DC, he reappears in Strip Jack being promoted to a DS; in Strip Jack he had just purchased a house in the constituency of the character Gregor Jack MP and works the case of Jack's wife's death with Rebus. He continued to work with Rebus on investigations and was brutally attacked in The Black Book forming the basis of the plot as Rebus tried to decipher his notes on a crime conspiracy he had uncovered. He later retired from the force as it was placing great strain on his personal life namely his relationship with his girlfriend Nell Stapleton - a librarian at the University of Edinburgh.

Detective Sergeant Ormiston

Detective Sergeant Ormiston is a police officer based at the Lothian and Borders Police headquarters at Fettes as part of the Scottish Crime Squad. He works in partnership with DI Claverhouse. He has greasy black hair.

Detective Sergeant Eric Bain

Detective Sergeant Eric Bain is a police officer based at the Lothian and Borders Police headquarters at Fettes as a computer expert. He is nicknamed "Brains". He develops a friendship with Siobhan Clarke during The Falls but their relationship suffers when he admits he is interested in her romantically.

Detective Constable Grant Hood

Detective Constable Grant Hood is a police officer who was based at St Leonards. He is a big fan of new technology and gadgets. During The Falls he is attracted to Siobhan Clarke, and attempts to kiss her. During the same novel he takes on a media liaison role, a position he takes up in a number of subsequent investigations.

Detective Constable "Hi-Ho" Silvers

Detective Constable "Hi-Ho" Silvers is a police officer who was based at St Leonards. He is described as "coasting towards his pension."

Police Constable Toni Jackson

Police Constable Toni Jackson is a police officer who is based at St Leonards. She frequently encourages Siobhan Clarke to socialise with the other female officers.

Police associates

Professor Gates

Professor "Sandy" Gates is a pathologist who appears frequently in the Rebus series.

Doctor Curt

Doctor Curt is a pathologist who appears frequently in the Rebus series. He is junior to the formidable Sandy Gates, although both men are eminent figures in their profession. His fearless sense of humour is a precision instrument

Deborah Quant

In Rather Be the Devil Rebus is retired but still "tinkers" by becoming a consultant to Police Scotland; he is in a relationship with the new pathologist Deborah Quant who socialises with DI Siobhan Clarke. They are still 'an item' in In a House of Lies and in A Song for the Dark Times he had earlier asked her if they were courting and she replied that they were friends with benefits - which seemed to suit both of them just fine.

Other associates

Jim Stevens

Jim Stevens is a journalist who first appeared in Knots and Crosses , at the end of which he left Edinburgh for London. He returned to Scotland for Watchman and subsequently appeared in later Rebus books.


Morris Gerald "Big Ger" Cafferty

Morris Gerald Cafferty, nicknamed "Big Ger" is a notorious Edinburgh crime boss and a frequent antagonist throughout the Rebus series. Although he has a brief cameo in the third novel Tooth and Nail , he first appears as a main character in The Black Book . Physically intimidating, as well as being ruthless and manipulative, he is one of Scotland's most powerful gangsters. He controls an organization that can apply intimidation, coercion, bribery, and murder to achieve his goals, but he is quite willing to wield these tools personally.

Cafferty was born on 18 October 1946 and by the 1980s he had become the controlling crime boss of Edinburgh. His relationship with Rebus ranges from outright hostility to an uneasy partnership. At one point, Rebus puts him in jail - a jail whose warden falls under Cafferty's control. Later, Cafferty's son is murdered and Cafferty helps the Inspector to find the killer, expecting to find an opportunity to exact criminal revenge. Cafferty habitually mocks Rebus by calling him 'Strawman', a nickname based on a court officer's error in calling Rebus to testify at a trial. Nevertheless, Rebus keeps returning to Cafferty for assistance, which Cafferty either provides, refuses, or disguises with misdirection, usually dropping an inadvertent clue or two. As a result of their relationship, Rebus is often accused of being 'in Cafferty's pocket'.

In later novels, Cafferty is a near-permanent figure, released from jail and claiming to have gone straight while retaining criminal control of Edinburgh from behind the scenes. He is often linked to cases that Rebus and Clarke are investigating, but there is never enough evidence to bring charges against him.

In Exit Music , an impending move to arrest, convict, and disempower Cafferty is forestalled when he is assaulted and hospitalized, comatose. On the final page, his heart flatlines and Rebus desperately tries to revive him, lest Cafferty have a 'cold, cleansed death'. [4] The book ends without revealing the results of Rebus's resuscitation attempt. In the next novel, Standing in Another Man's Grave, we discover that Cafferty survived, since he appears in this book. “Rather Be the Devil “ has Cafferty return.

The Weasel

The Weasel is Cafferty's second in command. He gained the nickname from Rebus for looking like a weasel. In The Hanging Garden Cafferty informs Rebus that The Weasel's surname is Jeffries . He has a shabby appearance which disguises his important rôle in Cafferty's organisation.

The Weasel finds the juvenile joyrider who knocked down Sammy Rebus. A horrified Rebus delivers the child from gangland retribution. In Resurrection Men , The Weasel's son Aly runs drugs without the knowledge of "Big Ger" Cafferty. Detective Inspector Claverhouse of the serious crimes squad secures the haul. Jeffries plans to inform on Cafferty to protect his own son and possibly to take control of Cafferty's empire.

Despite elaborate precautions on the part of DI Claverhouse, Cafferty steals the entire consignment of drugs before either police or rivals can act. The careers of Claverhouse and Assistant Chief Constable Colin Carswell are devastated. They had kept Carswell's chief, Sir David Strathern, in ignorance. The Weasel disappears from sight and largely from the narrative. Cafferty later tells Rebus that The Weasel is history, hinting enigmatically at either flight or elimination.

Rebus's personal life


Rhona is Rebus's ex-wife.


Samantha "Sammy" Rebus is the only daughter of Rebus and Rhona. She progresses from a child to an adult of the course of the series. She is hospitalised in The Hanging Garden after a suspected organised hit-and-run, putting her in a coma and leading to her having to use a wheelchair.


Carrie is the granddaughter of John Rebus; daughter to Samantha and Keith Grant who was murdered; see A Song for the Dark Times. Carrie was conceived by IVF - a final throw of the dice.


Michael Rebus is John's younger brother, who followed their father's career as a stage hypnotist. He is well-off, though apparently also from drug dealing. He first appeared in Knots and Crosses.

Patience Aitken

Doctor Patience Aitken is a romantic interest for Rebus spanning a number of novels in the series. The relationship is unstable, and frequently comes second place to Rebus's work. Patience ends the relationship at least once, although they reconcile briefly.

Jean Burchill

Jean Burchill is a romantic interest for Rebus. They first meet in The Falls , where she assists Rebus with his investigation in her role as a museum curator and they soon start a relationship. By the time of the next novel, Resurrection Men , Rebus is struggling to maintain the relationship, and in the subsequent novel A Question of Blood the romance is close to ending.

Deborah Quant

Deborah Quant the new pathogist is the love interest of John Rebus from Rather Be the Devil to A Song for the Dark Times . See above under "Police Associates".

Father Leary

Father Conor Leary is a Catholic priest whom Rebus befriends. They have many conversations over a Guinness. Fr Leary affects to have forgotten his precise age, and unknown to Rebus he is being treated for a worsening heart condition. In The Falls Conor Leary suffers a brain haemorrhage while attending a surgeons' dinner and dies instantly.

Matthew Vanderhyde

Matthew Vanderhyde is an elderly acquaintance of Rebus. He is blind and lives alone in orderly but darkened rooms. He is suspiciously knowledgeable about occult practices and about extreme political and paramilitary groups of earlier decades. Vanderhyde sometimes points Rebus to important events and figures of the recent past

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The Black Book is a 1993 crime novel by Ian Rankin, the fifth of the Inspector Rebus novels. It is the first book to feature Siobhan Clarke and Morris Gerald Cafferty appears as a main character. It is also the first book where Rebus is based at St Leonards police station.

<i>Knots and Crosses</i>

Knots and Crosses is a 1987 crime novel by Ian Rankin. It is the first of the Inspector Rebus novels. It was written while Rankin was a postgraduate student at the University of Edinburgh. In the introduction to this novel, Rankin states that Rebus lives directly opposite the window in Marchmont that he looked out of while writing the book.

<i>Black & Blue</i> (Rankin novel)

Black & Blue is a 1997 crime novel by Ian Rankin. The eighth of the Inspector Rebus novels, it was the first to be adapted in the Rebus television series starring John Hannah, airing in 2000.

<i>Resurrection Men</i>

Resurrection Men is a 2002 novel by Ian Rankin. It is the thirteenth of the Inspector Rebus novels. It won the Edgar Award for Best Novel in 2004.

<i>A Question of Blood</i>

A Question of Blood is a 2003 crime novel by Ian Rankin. It is the fourteenth of the Inspector Rebus novels.

<i>The Falls</i> (Rankin novel)

The Falls is a 2001 crime novel by Ian Rankin. It is the twelfth of the Inspector Rebus novels. It was the first episode in the second Rebus television series starring Ken Stott, airing in 2006, substantially changed from the novel and somewhat resembling the plot of the film Chinatown.

<i>Fleshmarket Close</i>

Fleshmarket Close is a 2004 crime novel by Ian Rankin, and is named after a real close in Edinburgh between the High Street and Market Street, crossing Cockburn Street. It is the fifteenth of the Inspector Rebus novels. "Fleshmarket" is the Scots term for butcher's market. It was released in the US under the title Fleshmarket Alley. The novel was the basis for the second episode in the second Rebus television series starring Ken Stott which was aired in 2006.

<i>The Naming of the Dead</i>

The Naming of the Dead is a crime novel by Ian Rankin. It is the sixteenth of the Inspector Rebus novels. It is set in Edinburgh in July 2005, in the week of the G8 summit in Gleneagles.

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<i>In a House of Lies</i>

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A Song for the Dark Times is the 23nd instalment in the Inspector Rebus series written by Ian Rankin. Retired John Rebus investigates the disappearance and death of his daughter's partner Keith Grant. Malcolm Fox and Detective Inspector Siobhan Clarke (Shiv) are a major players in a parallel investigation, and 'Big Ger' Cafferty is also involved with Fox.


  1. Concrete Evidence, Auld Lang Syne (short stories)
  2. Monstrous Trumpet (short story)
  3. Dead and Buried (short story)
  4. Rankin, Ian (September 2008). Exit Music . New York: Little, Brown. p.  421. ISBN   0-316-05758-4 . Retrieved 17 January 2009.