Brian Ferguson’s Festival Diary: The capital now boasts more crime writers than real-life criminals

Could Ian Rankin be running low on locations for dastardly deeds? Picture: Ian Georgeson
Could Ian Rankin be running low on locations for dastardly deeds? Picture: Ian Georgeson
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If you have had a hunch that Charlotte Square is awash with crime writers these days you are not the only one

Taking to the stage of the newly expanded main theatre at the Book Festival for the first time, Ian Rankin said he had long been resigned to the fact that the Scottish capital now boasts more crime writers than real-life criminals.

Finding new locations for dark deeds to unfold after 30 years of Inspector Rebus cracking cases has also proved problematic, after discovering he and Quintin Jardine were both using Quartermile, the luxury development created at the site of the old Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, as backdrops to key events.

After Rebus’s comeback from apparent retirement a few years ago, his fans have a new novel, the first ever theatre production featuring the detective and a TV comeback to look forward to.

Rankin’s wife, Miranda, who always reads the first draft of his novels, has needed no convincing that Rona Munro’s play will be up to scratch – she has already bought the author tickets for the opening night of Long Shadows at the King’s ­Theatre.

Rankin will be hoping for a less eventful evening than when he went to the Christmas pantomime and received a tip-off of a murder virtually on its doorstep – sparking an internal inquiry when he tweeted the news before the media had been alerted.

That same Quartermile development provided the backdrop to both the most dramatic sunset and the most uproarious audience reaction of the month, in the unlikely environs of the middle of the Meadows.

Admittedly, some members of Circolumbia, one of the hottest tickets at Underbelly’s Circus Hub, are clearly adept at helping to fire up a crowd.

They were being adoringly heckled – mercifully not during one of the show’s many hold-your-breath moments – before a finale featuring the best use of an umbrella I’ve spotted yet this month.

The wags have been out in force over the controversial Princes Street black-out barriers which the city council has been under siege over since they first blocked out views of the castle.

Moray Munro, one of many to quiz the council on Twitter, enquired: “I plan to be uptown on Saturday. Could you please ensure the large barriers are in place so I don’t have to see Kasabian.”

Edinburgh’s best Twitter account, the New Town Flaneur, has been in overdrive during the festivals season, with sightings of red trousers soaring, rubbish piling up on the streets and the future of Jenners in turmoil. Its rather harsh digs at Fifers have also noticeably been on the increase, although not all are convinced of a recent post that the Book Festival site offers a safe haven, with the likes of Rankin and Val McDermid roaming around.