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    September 2023
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    A Sense of Place… Discover Edinburgh through Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus Stories

    England Motorways

    England Motorways

    Take a good detective novel with you in the car, read it or listen to it and you’ll soon forget bad weather, heavy traffic and  long hours of driving on dull motorways. As Janice mentioned it to you, in her last post, that’s exactly what we did on our long journey from Bordeaux to Scotland.

    Motorways being not the best way to discover a country we buried ourselves in our book quite remorseless, with only a few breaks when the landscape happened to be worth a glimpse outside.….which, fortunately enough, did happen a number of times in France, England and of course in Scotland!

    Ian Rankin - Du Fond des Tenebres

    Ian Rankin - Du fond des ténèbres

    We had chosen Ian Rankin’s Du fond des ténèbres and it fell to me to read it to my fellow travellers, but so eager was I to arrive at the end of the book, that I read it too fast.

    Many detective novels need not to be read a second time but Ian Rankin’s Rebus stories well deserve it.  We finally come to think it would be a good idea to re-read Du fond des ténèbres, and still better to read it in English, so we’ve bought Set in Darkness and we’ll read it as the 11th  story of our Rebus reading list of 17 novels.

    What we’ve liked best so far  : Inspector Rebus and his acolytes surrounded by many characters so true to life we could have met them in the street, the twists and turns of a gripping plot and the deep sense of place which pervades the whole book making  us eager to follow the steps of Colin Brown in his famous Rebus guided tour in Edinburgh and to feel the dark side of the town, Auld Reekie’s (*) gloomy atmosphere.

    But there seems to be much more to discover in the great crime novels of Ian Rankin than Edinburgh. Indeed, Edinburgh is not the author’s native town. Ian Rankin was born in Cardenden, Fife, on April 28 th 1960.  I like the image of a “jigsaw” given by the author. Let us listen to him…

    (*) The city is affectionately nicknamed Auld Reekie (Scots for Old Smoky), because when buildings were heated by coal and wood fires, chimneys would spew thick columns of smoke into the air. Source: Wikipedia.

    I’ve said in the past that I started writing the Rebus books in order to make sense of Edinburgh, my adopted home. But Fife plays a major role in several of Rebus’s adventures, and comprises the majority of his memories. I wonder now if all this time, I’ve really been trying to make sense of my own upbringing, in order better to understand myself.

    ‘I started writing novels while an undergraduate student, in an attempt to make sense of the city of Edinburgh, using a detective as my protagonist. Each book hopefully adds another piece to the jigsaw that is modern Scotland, asking questions about the nation’s politics, economy, psyche and history…and perhaps pointing towards its possible future.’

    A Sense of Place - Back Cover

    A Sense of Place - Back Cover

    Edinburgh is second to none to make you feel a sense of the place. You feel it as soon as you arrive in the town though I’d rather say it’s Scotland as a whole which imbues you with such a feeling  but it’s something which is more easily felt than described…

    Some time ago, I discovered a quite interesting little book entitled ‘A Sense of Place’. It had been published in association with Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature ! Remember how, in December 2004,  the town had won the title of  the first ever UNESCO City of Literature.

    The mission statement was  : “UNESCO City of Literature now seeks to build on this honour, to deliver clear benefits for the city and for Scotland, to promote our country through literature and to establish the city as an example for all the other cities of literature that follow’.

    Let me tell you that the town well deserves its title and  that it has not rested on its laurels since this memorable date. The city  has launched a great number of very interesting literary projects of which we’ll soon tell you about and published a number of books among which in 2005, The Full Story oF Edinburgh’s Past And Present…


    The Full Story of Edinburgh's Literary Past and Present

    Finally we’re very happy to share with you the announcement of the coming out of Crimespotting, a book introduced by Irvine Welsh, the Scottish author of Trainspotting. This book should prove to be soon a must for the amateurs of the so-called “Tartan Noir” crime stories taking place in Edinburgh.

    Crimespotting introduce by Irvine Welsh

    Crimespotting introduced by Irvine Welsh

    It will come out on August 1st… don’t miss it !

    ‘All the short stories are brand new, specially commissioned for the title. The authors were asked for a story which features a crime and is set in Edinburgh. The results range from hard-boiled police procedural to historical whodunit and from the wildly comic to the spookily supernatural. Contributors are Lin Anderson, Kate Atkinson, Margaret Atwood, Christopher Brookmyre, John Burnside, Isla Dewar, A L Kennedy, Denise Mina, Ian Rankin and James Robertson, with an introduction by Irvine Welsh’   Source:

    A bientôt.

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