The Black Book – Edinburgh – Ian Rankin

ian rankin

Why a booktrail?

As in other Rebus novels, Edinburgh, its gritty underbelly and much of its surroundings are portrayed and evoked to perfection. A booktrail, a pub crawl and a fascinating view of the city awaits….

Story in a nutshell 

Five years ago, Edinburgh’s seedy little Central Hotel was burned to the ground. The case was never solved but it is quickly reopened when a charred body is found amongst the burned out ruins. There is a bullet in the corpse’s head too.

Is is wise to open up such a cold case – but what about the recently discovered body?

Rebus wants answers. But he’s not prepared for what he’s going to find. especially what he finds in the black note book

Place and setting

Arden street, Marchmont - where Rebus lives  Princes street - where the Central hotel is located before it burned down St Leonard street - police station HQ The Haymarket area of the city where we wish there really was an Elvis themed pub Young Street in the new town where Rebus's favourite Oxford Bar is located
Arden street, Marchmont – where Rebus lives
Princes street – where the Central hotel is located before it burned down
St Leonard street – police station HQ
The Haymarket area of the city where we wish there really was an Elvis themed pub
Young Street in the new town where Rebus’s favourite Oxford Bar is located

As with every one of the Rebus novels, there is a nice tour of Edinburgh and its surroundings within this novel. And while some of them, granted may not be on the Scottish tourist board’s list of places to go, it does paint a fascinating and somewhat  real picture of the hidden part of the Scottish capital. And a very amusing one at that – the first line –

It all happened because John Rebus was in his favourite massage parlour reading the bible

This is the Edinburgh that Rebus inhabits and from the very normal setting of his Arden street flat, this is a tour around the back streets, back alley ways and dingy dark passageways of Edinburgh’s old town.

The busy St Leonard’s Street police station is of course at the centre of the hustle and bustle of the goings on and Rebus’s workplace.

The first murder takes place at a butchers shop in South Clerk Street where a man has been stabbed. The chatter surrounding this crime and the gawping crowds remind Rebus of a familiar sight in Edinburgh on a Saturday-

It reminded Rebus of Saturday afternoon in the St James Centre, when pockets of men would gather outside the TV rental shops, hoping to catch the football scores.

Oh and the crime scene and investigations lead him to several habitués of seedy pubs and to the dark corners of the city you wouldn’t want to visit for real – but perhaps the most interesting in this novel is the Elvis-theme restaurant . Very Rebus and very amusing as The Heartbreak cafe, situated in Haymarket is apparently modelled on s similar sort of place Rankin visited when staying and researching in America. Pick out the names of the food such as love me Tenderloin  hehe

And we get a good look at the character of Cafferty –  Rebus’ arch villain – as soon as he appears on the page you can see him cruising the streets of Edinburgh, in his flashy motor.

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