Monday, June 05, 2017

Shitty, shitty rain

Edinburgh rain was like a judgement. It soaked into the bones, into the structures of the buildings, into the memories of the tourists. It lingered for days, splashing up from puddles by the roadside, breaking up marriages, chilling, killing, omnipresent. The typical postcard home from an Edinburgh boarding-house: "Edinburgh is lovely. The people rather reserved. Saw the Castle yesterday, and the Scott Monument. It's a very small city, almost a town really. You could fit it inside New York and never notice it. Weather could be better."

Photo by Steffani Cameron.
Weather could be better. The art of euphemism. Shitty, shitty rain.
— from Knots and Crosses, by Ian Rankin

I wasn't really interested in reading a series starring yet another clichéd troubled-yet-sensitive, hard-drinking detective. But I'm vacationing in Edinburgh in a few weeks' time, and I was told the city features strongly in Rankin's Inspector Rebus novels, like a character in its own right, so it seemed appropriate to read one, to set the mood for my holiday.

There's a lightness to the writing, great humour and wit, that makes it very engaging, despite the grimness of the plot. I was halfway through when I realized the novel hadn't devoted much time at all to the actual mystery of the serial killer. And that's fine — the story certainly didn't bog down in the details of police procedure. I'm curious to see how subsequent Rebus novels play out, now that the groundwork for his character has been established.
Edinburgh slept on, as it had slept for hundreds of years. There were ghosts in the cobble alleys and on the twisting stairways of the Old Town tenements, but they were Enlightenment ghosts, articulate and deferential.
I'm sold on Edinburgh — its Jekyll-and-Hyde nature and rain like judgement.

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