Dog stars in Tartan Noir writer’s kids series
Former Capital teacher Lin Anderson, famed for her bestselling series of novels featuring forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod, met black-and-white border collie Blaze during a visit to Skye in 2018 to research Time for the Dead, the 14th book in the series.
The dog helped inspire the plot and became a central character as Rhona’s “forensic assistant”.
Lin, 69, dedicated the book – which has been longlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish crime book of the year – to “Blaze fae Skye, Border Collie, who inspired this story”.
Now she is set to release the first in a series of children’s books, Blaze Dog Detective.
The Magic Flag Mystery, co-written with Blaze’s real-life owner, Donald McKay, has been written for children from the ages of around seven to 11.
In it, Blaze is called in by the Skye police after the famous fairy flag of the Clan MacLeod goes missing from Dunvegan Castle.
Assisted by his “wee brother” Laoch and fictional local children Rory and Rosa, Blaze uses his scenting skills to solve the crime.
Lin, who co-founded Stirling’s Bloody Scotland crime fiction festival, said: “Blaze became the star of Time for the Dead after I went across to Skye. I got a chance to try axe throwing at ACE Target Sports, the activity centre [in Portree] where Donald works, and then his dog took me a walk.
“I hadn’t an idea for the book at that point but Blaze led me up the hill and that’s when the crime scene came to me.
“What struck me was that dogs were the first forensics - sniffing out things that humans couldn’t ... Everything that Blaze does in the book he can do in real life.
“I had so much fun with the dog in the adult book that I realised there was a whole world to explore for younger readers. Now Blaze Dog Detective is on its way to the printers.”
Lin, who was a teacher in Edinburgh for 17 years before becoming a full-time writer, credits Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books, Agatha Christie and Robert Louis Stevenson for making her a crime writer.
For her children’s books, she adds Scooby-Doo and Katie Morag: “If you can imagine Scooby-Doo meets The Famous Five on a Katie Morag island, you can begin to see Blaze’s world.”
A second book in the Blaze series is already in the pipeline, this time featuring Skye’s dinosaur past.
The 15th Rhona MacLeod novel, The Innocent Dead, is published on Thursday.