From Craig Russell to Val McDermid, from the underbelly of Glasgow to the wilds of the Isle of Lewis, take a tour of Scottish crime - but watch your step.

The creator of beloved forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod and founding member of the Bloody Scotland Crime Festival, Lin Anderson gives us a peek into Scotland’s crime writing fraternity, encourages us to keep secrets as long as possible and indulges our speculations about a meeting between Rhona and Rebus.


BFS: You’ve been coined one of the leading ladies of tartan noir. To your mind, what attributes characterise Tartan Noir? How do you feel your work challenges, upholds or develops that tradition?

LA: The term Tartan Noir was coined by Ian Rankin when chatting to American crime writer James Ellroy at a crime fiction event in Nottingham. Ian explained he was a crime writer who wrote about Edinburgh and the darker side of Scottish life. He said, ‘You could call it Tartan Noir.’ Ellroy laughed and signed the book ‘To the King of Tartan Noir’. Although even Ian would agree that the real ‘King of Tartan Noir’ is undoubtedly William McIlvanney with Laidlaw. I think it’s distinguishable from other crime writing, because it’s very Scottish in attitude (the old Jekyll and Hyde effect), use of language and humour. Willie said he wanted to write a story that reflected the people he knew, the voices he heard around him in Glasgow. I think that tradition has continued, although it’s not confined to one location in Scotland. As to my forensic series…well it doesn’t feature a male detective with angst and a drink problem, so in that respect it’s different. Dr Rhona MacLeod may not have a dr...


This year, Craig Russell took home Bloody Scotland’s accolade for Crime Novel of the Year, with his thrilling novel The Ghosts of Altona, the latest in his Jan Fabel series. The author of two other series and winner of a CWA Dagger Award, Russell is one of the leading voices in Scottish crime fiction. But, first and foremost, he’s just a bloody good writer. Here he talks to BFS about genre, the personality of a city and how crucial it is to exercise the writing muscle.

BFS: You’re a prolific novelist, with two established series of crime novels and a third, non-crime one taking shape. Can you tell us a little bit about what drew you to the crime genre in the first instance?

CR: I always rather pompously describe myself as ‘a writer who happens to write ...


‘Val is a member of the crime writer’s dog fraternity, if you can call a border terrier a dog and not an animated teddy bear. Val once saw a photog raph of my dog, and said, “That is one ugly dog. Even for Glasgow that is an ugly dog.” (She was just stating the obvious as my dog is hideous, a cross between a haggis and a komodo dragon.) ‘My best memory of Val was singing with her and Tania Carver on the sofa at a publishing party in London. We were singing the theme tune to ‘When the Boat Comes In’ and two posh folk walked past. I heard one of them say with a dismissive wave of the hand: “Oh don’t worry about them. They are from the North”.’ From The Killer Cookbook editor, Caro Ramsay

Russian Stuffed Aubergine By ...


Sara Hunt, director of independent publisher Saraband, offers an insight into the creation of Scotland’s only dedicated crime imprint, Contraband.


It was an open-and-shut case, really. A no-brainer. It didn’t need Sherlock Holmes to study the evidence and deduce the best way forward. After all, here we are publishing books in the country that’s home to one of the most thriving crime fiction scenes on the planet: Conan Doyle, Rankin, McDermid, May, Brookmyre, McCall Smith, Rowling/Galbraith, Atkinson… the list of truly great crime writers and fictional detectives from Scotland goes on and on. So why not start our own crime fiction imprint, publishing the new crop of talented Scottish scribblers who have their own criminal tales to tell? Elementary!

That was pretty much t...


Based on the infamous, grisly murders in the underbelly of Edinburgh, this novel was originally published in the Dundee People’s Journal in 1864 and 1865 by one of the most successful serial novelists of his day, David Pae. The new edition provides a window into the popular Victorian imagination and breathes new life into this classic tale.

Extract from Mary Paterson, or, The Fatal Error By David Pae, edited by Caroline McCracken-Flesher Published by ASLS

Two years have come and gone, and once more it is an autumn day – a day of blue sky and bright sunshine – a day when throughout the whole extent of broad and bonny Scotland the reapers are in the fields cutting down the yellow grain, enlivening their toil by laughter and song. In all the vales and in...



Doug Johnstone on Writing Edinburgh click

Doug Johnstone on Writing Edinburgh

The Shifting Landscape of a City


The Cunning House click

The Cunning House

Extract from the critically acclaimed novel from Sandstone Press


The Essential Guide to Scottish Crime Fiction click

The Essential Guide to Scottish Crime Fiction

Find your way around Tartan Noir


Penance click


A Magdalene Institute. A murder. A secret much deeper than anyone imagined.


William McIlvanney in Conversation click

William McIlvanney in Conversation

The Godfather of Tartan Noir


Author Top Ten: Christopher Brookmyre click

Author Top Ten: Christopher Brookmyre

Christopher Brookmyre gives us a run down of some of his favourite Scottish books and explains why he’s a fan.