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The City and the Book

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Sep 1, 2007, 3:40am Top

One of the most beautiful cities in the world, if you ask me.

The Lamplighter by Anthony O'Neill - 19th century pastiche: you think it's going to be a murder mystery, but it switches genre halfway through. Unerring pastiche, terrific atmosphere.

The Resurrection Club by Christopher Wallace - Present-day festival-goers meet nineteenth-century sorcerer. Horror, again with a great atmosphere.

The Falls by Ian Rankin - in fact anything by Ian Rankin if you want the whole of Edinburgh, ranging from the genteel to the gritty. He's taken the role of "Edinburgh's Literary Son" in the media, but quite frankly he's entitled to, his novels are terrific.

44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith - yes it's a bit upper-middle-class, but I have a soft spot for it - reading it is like being at a dinner-party with the best conversation. And Ian Rankin even makes an appearance towards the end!

Killing the Shadows by Val McDermid - just because she can, she writes a terrific Edinburgh-set first chapter here. It never goes any further than an opener - it's revealed later to be the work of a murdered mystery writer - but I for one would have loved to have seen more of it.

McLevy and McLevy Returns by James McLevy - the witty, highly-readable memoirs of an Edinburgh detective from the 1860s. Quite probably an influence on Arthur Conan Doyle.

Maybe I should include The Canongate Strangler by Angus McAllister for completeness, though I don't rate this terribly highly - it's just Jekyll & Hyde updated and moved to Edinburgh. Nice scene on Portobello Beach.

Sep 2, 2007, 6:55am Top

The Fanatic by James Robertson opens on Bass Rock in 1677 and events in the Edinburgh of that period are interleaved with the present through a man who works on nightly tours of the old city. Quite a while since I read it.

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