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Authors: Ian Rankin

Set in Darkness

BOOK: Set in Darkness
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Praise for Ian Rankin

‘Rankin weaves his plots with a menacing ease . . . His prose is understated, yet his canvas of Scotland’s criminal underclass has a panoramic breadth. His ear for dialogue is as sharp as a switchblade. This is, quite simply, crime writing of the highest order’

Daily Express

‘A series that shows no signs of flagging . . . Assured, sympathetic to contemporary foibles, humanistic, this is more than just a police procedural as the character of Rebus grows in moral stature . . . Rankin is the head capo of the MacMafia’

Time Out

‘Rankin has followed one success with another. Sardonic and assured, the novel has a powerful and well-paced narrative. What is striking is the way Rankin uses his laconic prose as a literary paint stripper, scouring away pretensions to reveal the unwholesome reality beneath’


‘Rankin strips Edinburgh’s polite façade to its gritty skeleton’

The Times

‘A teeming Ellroy-esque evocation of life at the sharp end in modern Scotland . . . Rankin is the finest Scottish crime writer to emerge since William McIlvanney’


‘Rebus resurgent . . . A brilliantly meshed plot which delivers on every count on its way to a conclusion as unexpected as it is inevitable. Eleventh in the series. Still making waves’

Literary Review

‘His fiction buzzes with energy . . . Essentially, he is a romantic storyteller in the tradition of Robert Louis Stevenson . . . His prose is as vivid and terse as the next man’s yet its flexibility and rhythm give it potential for lyrical expression which is distinctly Rankin’s own’

Scotland on Sunday

‘Top notch . . . the bleakness is unrelenting, but it quite suits Mr Rankin who does his best work in the dark’

New York Times

‘The internal police politics and corruption in high places are both portrayed with bone-freezing accuracy. This novel should come with a wind-chill factor warning’

Daily Telegraph

‘Detective Inspector Rebus makes the old-style detectives with their gentle or bookish backgrounds, Alleyn, Morse, Dalgliesh, look like wimps . . . Rankin is brilliant at conveying the genuine stench of seedy places on the dark side of Scotland’

Sunday Telegraph

‘It’s the banter and the energy, the immense carnival of scenes and characters, voices and moods that set Rankin apart. His stories are like a transmission forever in the red zone, at the edge of burnout. This is crime ficiton at its best’

Washington Post

Born in the Kingdom of Fife in 1960, Ian Rankin graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1982, and then spent three years writing novels when he was supposed to be working towards a PhD in Scottish Literature. His first Rebus novel,
Knots and Crosses
, was published in 1987, and the Rebus books are now translated into over thirty languages and are bestsellers worldwide.

Ian Rankin has been elected a Hawthornden Fellow, and is also a past winner of the Chandler-Fulbright Award. He is the recipient of four Crime Writers’ Association Dagger Awards including the prestigious Diamond Dagger in 2005 and in 2009 was inducted into the CWA Hall of Fame. In 2004, Ian won America’s celebrated Edgar award for
Resurrection Men
. He has also been shortlisted for the Anthony Awards in the USA, and won Denmark’s
Palle Rosenkrantz
Prize, the French
Grand Prix du Roman Noir
and the
Deutscher Krimipreis
. Ian Rankin is also the recipient of honorary degrees from the universities of Abertay, St Andrews, Edinburgh, Hull and the Open University.

A contributor to BBC2’s
Newsnight Review
, he also presented his own TV series,
Ian Rankin’s Evil Thoughts
. He has received the OBE for services to literature, opting to receive the prize in his home city of Edinburgh. He has also recently been appointed to the rank of Deputy Lieutenant of Edinburgh, where he lives with his partner and two sons. Visit his website at

By Ian Rankin
The Inspector Rebus series
Knots & Crosses –

Hide & Seek –

Tooth & Nail –

Strip Jack –

The Black Book –

Mortal Causes –

Let it Bleed –

Black & Blue –

The Hanging Garden –

Death Is Not The End (
Dead Souls –

Set in Darkness –

The Falls –

Resurrection Men –

A Question of Blood –

Fleshmarket Close –

The Naming of the Dead –

Exit Music –

Other Novels
The Flood –

Watchman –

A Cool Head (
) –

Doors Open –

The Complaints –

Writing as Jack Harvey
Witch Hunt –

Bleeding Hearts –

Blood Hunt –

Short Stories
A Good Hanging and Other Stories –

Beggars Banquet –

Rebus’s Scotland –
Ian Rankin
Set in Darkness
For my son Kit, with all my hopes, dreams and love

Though my soul may set in darkness
It will rise in perfect light,
I have loved the stars too fondly
To be fearful of the night.

Sarah Williams, ‘The Old Astronomer to his Pupil’




Praise for Ian Rankin

About the Author

By Ian Rankin


Part One: The Sense of an Ending

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Part Two: Fitful and Dark

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Part Three: Beyond This Mist

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42


Reading Group Notes



According to the dictionary, it means the ability to make ‘happy chance finds’. Serendip was the old name for Ceylon. Horace Walpole is credited with coining the term, after the fairy tale ‘The Three Princes of Serendip’, whose titular heroes were always stumbling across things they weren’t looking for.


It’s one of my favourite words. Several of the Rebus novels have depended upon serendipity – most notably
The Falls
Set in Darkness
. Here’s how it worked with
Set in Darkness
: I was on a promotional tour of the USA. Another day, another internal flight, this time from Philadelphia . . . I don’t recall the destination. Lacking reading material, I reached for the in-flight magazine. It featured a walking guide to Edinburgh. Hmm, I thought to myself, won’t be anything here I don’t already know.

I was wrong.

One of the sites mentioned was Queensberry House. I knew it to be situated at the foot of Holyrood Road, not far from the Queen’s residence and across from where they were building a new HQ for the
newspaper. Queensberry House was going to be home to the new Scottish parliament building. I had scant knowledge of the place, thought it had been a barracks at one time, and latterly a hospital. At one time, that area of Edinburgh had boasted the city’s finest homes, but when the ‘New Town’
had been constructed in the 1790s, a lot of the wealthier inhabitants had fled the ‘Old Town’. Many of the abandoned buildings fell into disrepair and were eventually demolished. Queensberry House was a rare survivor. It had been home to the Duke of Queensberry, who had been responsible for the Act of Union between Scotland and England. (This had made him rather unpopular in Edinburgh: he was chased through the streets at one point and had to take refuge in the cathedral.)

But then the article told me something I didn’t know: a member of the duke’s family had one night killed, cooked and eaten one of the servants. Citizens saw this as a bad omen for the ‘marriage’ with England. The duke was chased through the streets again.

Like I say, news to me. I tore the article out and folded it into my pocket.

Back home in Edinburgh, I did some further research, and was able to arrange a tour of Queensberry House, thanks to a contact at Historic Scotland (who were involved in archaeological work on the site, prior to remodelling). A TV crew were shadowing me for a documentary about my working methods, which means I have proof that the following is not just a novelist’s fancy. We were near the end of our private tour when I happened to mention the act of cannibalism. My guide was sceptical.

‘Probably something for the tourists,’ he said.

But then there was a shout from the basement. We headed down into the bowels of the house, to a room which had been stripped of its floorboards. The plaster and panelling had been removed from one wall, revealing a large stone arch, blocked by a metal plate.

BOOK: Set in Darkness
4.92Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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