Pace of change in Capital leaves Rankin trailing

Rankin admits he cannot keep up with the pace of change in Edinburgh. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Rankin admits he cannot keep up with the pace of change in Edinburgh. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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IAN RANKIN has admitted he cannot keep up with the changing face of Edinburgh – which is making his books out of date before they are even published.

The crime writer said he was running out of locations to set crimes in across the Scottish capital because it was becoming so gentrified.

How Market Street looks today, with the new commercial area. Picture: JON SAVAGE

How Market Street looks today, with the new commercial area. Picture: JON SAVAGE

Rankin, speaking at the launch of his new Inspector Rebus novel at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, said his books were becoming “historical novels” because locations were changing so quickly after each book was completed.

The books are set in “real-world” Edinburgh, with the main character being gradually aged by the author since the first instalment, Knots and Crosses, in 1987. The latest instalment, Rather Be The Devil, sees Rebus face up to his old nemesis, gangster Maurice “Big Ger” Cafferty.

Rankin said: “In the new book, Rebus and Cafferty go for a coffee at Starbucks on Forrest Road. It’s become a Mexican restaurant since I wrote the book. I couldn’t believe it. It was definitely there when I finished it in June. I turned around the corner in September or October and thought: ‘where has it gone?’

“I was at The Stand Comedy Club last night and went for a few drinks to Mathers bar in Broughton Street and it wasn’t there any more. It’s become some kind of wine bar-type place since August. It’s a lot more chi-chi than it used to be. It’s problematic. These books are history now before they’re even published. I don’t like it when Edinburgh changes.”

Market Street pictured in 2000 during filming of Rebus. Picture: IAN RUTHERFORD

Market Street pictured in 2000 during filming of Rebus. Picture: IAN RUTHERFORD

Rankin said writing crime novels about the city was getting harder and harder because so many areas had been “cleaned up,” adding: “There is nowhere left in Edinburgh that is kind of disreputable. We’re running out of places to write about. The other problem is the Scottish murder rate keeps going down. There’s not enough of them to go round.”

Rankin admitted his Rebus books were increasingly tackling the ageing process, with the detective facing up to being a grandfather for the first time.

He said: “It was only after the previous book was done, maybe when people were talking to me about it, that I realised that it was a book about me letting go of my sons. It was written not long after both of them had left home.

“When you have adult children leave home a different chapter of your life is about to start. You’re thinking: ‘Did I do the right things? Did I do as well as I could have done? Are they as well prepared for life as I could have made them? All that stuff was getting channelled into that book.

“Rebus was estranged from his daughter for quite some time. She’s had a baby and in the new book he meets his granddaughter. He’s not too sure how to react. I’m not a grandad yet, but maybe I’m thinking how I would react if I was.”