SCOTLAND’S favourite fictional detective is back – and taking a bitter sideswipe at the capital’s notorious tram system.
The latest installment of Ian Rankin’s best-selling “tartan noir” series is due to hit shelves tomorrow with Inspector John Rebus leaving retirement for one last case.
In the 28 years since the first Rebus novel was published, the books have become a worldwide publishing sensation with more than ten million copies sold in 26 language translations.
Fans have eagerly anticipated the latest outing for two years – but may be surprised that in the newest dark tale of murder and betrayal the Edinburgh tram system also gets a not-so-honourable mention.
In one scene in Even Dogs in the Wild, Rebus departs Edinburgh for Inverness in search of clues,
Rankin writes: “As he crossed the Forth Road Bridge, he saw its replacement taking shape over to the west.
“The project was apparently on time and under budget, unlike the Edinburgh tram route. He had yet to take a tram anywhere in the city.”
Meanwhile, another character grumbles about the distinctive digitised tram bell which the new £976m system uses, commenting: “No way that’s the real thing.”
Others make a number of sly digs at the newly created Police Scotland – with some admitting that the force is “stretched.”
And an Edinburgh-based police officer complains about his Glasgow counterpart, saying: “Typical Glasgow – thinks he’s seen it all while we spend our days directing tourists to the castle.”
One character mocks the Vauxhall Insignia cars used by the force, saying “this thing couldn’t outrun a segway”.
Rankin’s new novel even features a female police officer with the appearance of Nicola Sturgeon.
DC Beth Hastie reminds another character “a little of the First Minister – similar age, haircut and facial shape.”
Throughout the novel her integrity is called into question – with dark secrets emerging about her character as the action escalates.
“Even Dogs in the Wild” – the 20th in Rankin’s series of Rebus novels – has already received rave reviews from critics.
The novel sees Rebus unhappy in his retired life – and eager to offer his help to old ally DI Siobhan Clarke help when she calls for him.
The plot follows an investigation into the death of a senior lawyer and a deadly threat made against Big Ger Cafferty – Rebus’ longtime nemesis.
Meanwhile DI Malcolm Fox – another Rankin creation – works with a covert team to investigate a violent Glasgow crime family.
Edinburgh’s tram system was widely criticised after it came in millions of pounds over budget and years late.
To this day critics claim that the hugely expensive trams remain largely unused by most of the city’s population – including the fictional Inspector Rebus.
Reacting to Rebus’ comments on the trams, an Edinburgh Council spokeswoman said: “We’re sure many of the five million passengers who rode the tram in its first year of service will be excited to see Inspector Rebus return.”