Scotland is hosting its first international Crime Writing Festival Bloody Scotland on the weekend of the 14th of September. Lots of people love Scottish crime fiction – which is one of Scotland’s biggest exports – so we decided to pitch in by bringing this celebration to all of our members around the world.
What makes Scottish crime so distinctively special that it even gets its very own label of “Tartan Noir”? I guess that you could get many answers to this question but some reasons will be repeated by many: the landscape, lots of mysterious looking ruins and lochs and all that dark folklore. It seems like a lot of Northern countries in general are a natural habitat for people with dark minds; since so much can be hidden behind the closed doors and lost in the vast, and harsh looking landscape. Many Scottish crime writers take full advantage of it by creating a very strong sense of place. Some readers would argue that in some Scottish mysteries places become “characters”.
Caro Ramsay, one of the most popular Scottish crime writers, “has her own theory which centres on possible depression over the weather, football and putting up with Scottish men” she also feels that there is a natural harshness about people that are well familiar with difficult times. Others, like Christopher Brookmyre think that Scottish speech and in particular Glaswegian dialect is extremely well fitting for smart and quirky “one liners” that are perfectly fitting with the world of dark crime.
Scottish crime writing is also really well known for its unique combination of police procedural mixed with some gothic tradition and Scotland’s oral traditions of great heroes that are often underdogs. Ian Rankinpresides over this field in particular with his inspector Rebus series but his Malcolm Fox character fits beautifully in this “sub-genre” too and of course all serious fans can hardly wait for the new book from Rankin (coming this November) where he is going to bring both characters together.
Finally, one has to also acknowledge that one of the main reasons why crime writing in Scotland is so big is because Scots love to read mysteries. The book industry has been reporting over the years that crime writing is “one of the biggest and most reliable sectors of the book industry” in this country and with the pool of writing talent that they have; it is hard to see that changing any time soon.
Luckily, in this global world we can all enjoy and celebrate it. We have put together a “wee” list of our favourite “Tartan Noir” authors and we would love to invite you all to share with us your favourite ones, add the ones that we might have missed and tell us about your most memorable Scottish crime book. This Scottish Crime chat will be hosted by our Crime club so please follow this link to leave your comments and connect with other “Tartan Noir” aficionados.