August Books 26) Rebus's Scotland: A Personal Journey, by Ian Rankin
In this book, Rankin pulls back the curtain to show us where Inspector Rebus came from. He introduces us to Fife, to Edinburgh, to Scotland as a whole, and to how his own personal history intersects with that of his creation. Rebus is older and more right-wing, but has mysteriously similar tastes in music to Rankin; they have lived on the same streets, and drunk in the same pubs. Rankin is not sure if he really likes Rebus; they have been too close for too long, with communication really only in one direction, for the relationship to be entirely healthy. It's thanks to Rebus that there is an Ian Rankin Close in their home town; the writer feels that this is a mixed blessing. It's a very good exploration of Scotland as a political and cultural entity, and how that is reflected in art.
There are some lovely photographs in the book, but they are badly presented, jammed into four different clutches and not well integrated with the text. I hope that a future edition will use better production methods to help readers appreciate them.
How quickly things can change. When this was published in 2006, Scottish devolution was half its present age; an SNP minority government appeared just possible, a majority government and an independence referendum were sheer fantasy. Now the Matter of Scotland looms over not just the United Kingdom but other parts of Europe as well.