Natural Causes in Edinburgh – part one

A SCOTS farmer dubbed the new Ian Rankin celebrated his six-figure crime book deal - by buying a new tractor.

Inspector Mclean is not your average policeman. Orphaned at the age of 4, he was raised by his very wealthy grandmother.

But the thing that really sets him apart is the fact that he is sensitive to the paranormal. Whilst investigating the story behind the mutilated body of a girl murdered 60 years ago,  a body has been discovered walled up in the basement of an old Edinburgh house. She has been brutally murdered, her internal organs removed and placed around her in six preserving jars.

The murder is found to have happened some sixty years ago, as an attempt to re-enact an ancient ceremony of trapping a demon in the dead girl’s body and thus conferring immortality on the six men who each took one of her organs. This supernatural element is unique in a police procedural (at least to my knowledge) and it made it a really interesting premise.

His frustration at his inability to keep a mobile phone battery charged has to be met with sympathy in this day and age!

There is obviously a lot more to be discovered about Tony McLean’s past and the reason why he is sensitive to the evil that lurks in Edinburgh. Why was his family so wealthy? Who was the man in his grandmother’s photo, perhaps even his parents’ deaths will have to be investigated once more.

 Allow Inspector McLean to take you around the city:


Where McLean lives in Newington
Where McLean lives in Newington

This is a street in Newington that I have on good authority was the model and inspiration for Mclean’s flat. Just look at that stunning view!

Some view you've got there Mr Mclean!
Some view you’ve got there Mr Mclean!

The front door of the tenement was unlocked again, wedged half open with  a bit of broken pacing slab. Mclean tough about shutting it properly, but decided against it. The last thing he wanted was to be woken by the students from the first floor flat pressing all the buzzers at four in the morning until someone let them in. – 36

Wrinkling his nose against the spray of too many tomcats, he climbed the stone steps up to the top floor. – 36

Now apart from the wonderful and very realistic description of an Edinburgh tenement building, more the doorbell part than the cat one thankfully, I peered up at the top floor and just wondered if I would be able to see him at his window:

ooh is that Tony at the window?
ooh is that Tony at the window?

Now not knowing Newington all that well, i decided to go and follow in the footsteps of Inspector McClean and explore the area a bit:

The Newington Arms wasn’t the best place to drink in Edinburgh not by anyone’s  measure. but it made up for that by being the nearest to his home. McLean pushed through the swing doors……. – page 39


He bought himself a pint of Deuchars and looked around for any familiar faces…..


I didn’t go into a pub or drink Deuchars but I did come across a wonderful little cafe not far away and wondered if McLean had popped in here at all:

coffee here is good
coffee here is good


Without giving any of the plot away, one of the murders takes place in St Andrew’s Square, I decided to visit the spot and imagine Mclean imagining what took place here and to find out this man’s role in the Smythe murder.

St Andrew's Square with a fantastic coffee shop right in the middle - and of course the location for a grisly death in a pub
St Andrew’s Square with a fantastic coffee shop right in the middle – and of course the location for a grisly death in a pub

This man walked into a pub just off St Andrew’s Square about half eleven last night. Went into the gents’ and cut his own throat. It was even the same knife he used on Smythe.’ – 88


Tony McLean’s station does not exist in real life but is instead a strange merger of St Leonards and Gayfield Square Police Stations, so geographically it’s somewhere in the vicinity of The Pleasance.

Inspector McLean works here
Inspector McLean works here

There is a lot more to this book than meets the eye…….and my travels took me to the heart of grisly and murderous Edinburgh. The very next day, I kid you not, a heavy mist descended on the city making it even more realistic a setting for this book and its follow up Book of Souls….there would be plenty more grisly stops along the way…..Come back tomorrow for part two!

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