Inspector Rebus and the case of the missing books

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By Michael MacLeod

TOP crime writer Ian Rankin says even his Inspector Rebus character would struggle to solve the mystery of Scotland’s missing library books.

Almost a quarter of a million pounds worth of books remain unreturned, with most councils resigned to the fact books get stolen.

Not surprisingly, the books most popular with thieves almost match the year’s best-sellers list.

JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books topped the stolen titles, closely followed by fellow Edinburgh resident Ian Rankin’s gripping Rebus novels.

Since first appearing in Knots and Crosses in 1987, Detective Inspector John Rebus has featured in a succession of Rankin’s award winning detective novels and a major TV series.

But now the UK’s top selling crime writer has become a victim of crime himself.

He said: “It’s a great thing that my books are so widely available and libraries keep Scotland reading.

“But it’s a shame people seem to be abusing the trust of libraries.

“Why anyone would do that is a mystery to me, and I’m sure even John Rebus would find this kind of “crime” bemusing.

“Hopefully they’ll be returned to the shelves soon.”

His comments come after it emerge Scots taxpayers are footing the bill, which amounted to £223,463 last year.

In extreme cases, debt recovery agencies are being called in by councils to tackle the mounting costs.

Councils revealed this week that in the past year, 36,792 books have never been returned to libraries across Scotland, some 5,476 more than the year before.

Worst hit was West Lothian council, currently searching for £51,218 of library stock, while the Western Isles council, Eilean Siar, only has 30 books missing.

Top ten most stolen/unreturned books from Scotland’s libraries

1. JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
2. Jackie Collins – Lovers and Players
3. Jacqueline Wilson, The Diamond Girls
4. Ian Rankin – All Rebus novels
5. Driving Standards Agency Official DSA Theory Test for Car Drivers
6. Berlie Doherty – Street Child
7. Roald Dahl – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
8. Terry Pratchett – Discworld books
9. Stephen King – The Stand
10. Agatha Christie – And Then There Were None

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