Ian Rankin reveals line-up for 'RebusFest' event

Ian Rankin is marking 30 years of his Inspector Rebus books in 2017.
Ian Rankin is marking 30 years of his Inspector Rebus books in 2017.
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Serving and former police officers are to be quizzed by Ian Rankin at a festival to mark 30 years of his Inspector Rebus novels.

Police Scotland have agreed to help stage an event on “the making of a detective” as part of the three-day celebration of the much-loved character.

Rankin, who has regularly sought advice from real-life officers since he started researching the first novel, will be asking them how realistic his creation has been.

They will also be grilled on changes in policing techniques over the years and the impact of the introduction of a national police force.

The event, at the Assembly Rooms, is expected to be a highlight of the inaugural “RebusFest,” which will also see Rankin and a celebrity guest challenge his fans on their knowledge of the novels.

A concert inspired by the favourite musical acts of both the fictional detective and the real-life author will be staged at the Queen’s Hall, with Edinburgh-based singer-songwriters Blue Rose Code and Kirsty Law already confirmed in the line-up.

The Fife-born author has joined forces with his publisher, Orion, the National Museum of Scotland, the city’s book and film festivals, and the Edinburgh City of Literature Trust to stage “RebusFest,” which is expected to bring fans from around the world to the city between 30 June and 2 July.

A special 30th anniversary exhibition is being created for the Writers’ Museum, the Old Town attraction normally devoted to the world of Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson.

The Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh hotel, better known as “the Caley,” which features in many of the Rebus novels, will be hosting the festival quiz - So You Think You Know Rebus - as well as a masterclass in Highland Park whisky, one of Rebus’s favourite tipples.

The Filmhouse cinema will screen Reichenbach Falls, a BBC thriller inspired by a Rankin short story, while the museum will host a talk on the famous “Arthur’s Seat Coffins,” which inspired one of the best-known Rebus stories, The Falls.

Curators are also creating a “noir trail” of mysterious and murderous objects in its collection.

Rankin said: “It was actually Police Scotland that suggested doing an event at the festival.”

“We’re going to have at least one retired cop and one serving cop, and hopefully at least forensic expert as well. I’ll be talking to them about real policing and how it changed since 1987. When I was researching the first Rebus book I wrote to the chief constable and he sent me down to Leith Police Station.

“I really didn’t know anything about the police at the time. Now I think I do know quite a lot about the police, but they keep bloody changing it.

“So a lot of the conversation will be about the changes to Police Scotland, whether Rebus would approve, whether they approve and how difficult it is as a crime writer to take it all aboard.

“I didn’t go near the police for years and made lots of mistakes. A detective sergeant came to get a book signed one time and told me that I was making a lot of procedural mistakes. He became a great friend, but he would help me to get all the details right.

“It’s probably more difficult to get access to police officers now. Back in the early days, the Oxford Bar was a place where cops went to drink off-duty. You just stood at the bar and bought a few rounds and you get the answers to the questions you had. But there just isn’t that drinking culture any more.”

Rankin, who launched the 21st instalment in the series, Rather Be The Devil, in November, had previously warned fans not to expect a new novel during the 30th anniversary year.

The festival will be taking place in the midst of a hectic touring schedule, which will take the author to Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia this year.

Rebus appeared to have worked on his final case in the 2007 novel Exit Music, set during his final days as a working detective.

But the character has been called out of retirement four times since then by Rankin, including the most recent novel, which saw him face up to arch-nemesis “Big Ger” Cafferty once again.