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Issue 62 - Edinburgh detective ages aswell as his whisky

Whisky Magazine Issue 62
March 2007


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Edinburgh detective ages aswell as his whisky

Roddy Martine shares a dram with Ian Rankin as he celebrates 20 years of his most famous creation,Inspector Rebus

Having to date immersed myself in 12 of his 17 crime scene investigations, I reckon I recognise the role model for the fictional Inspector John Rebus of Edinburgh's Oxford Bar. In fact, I know him well. Having lived in the central belt of Scotland for most of my life, I should do by now. I see him every day on the street; I encounter him on the train, and on buses.

More strategically, I regularly meet him in pubs, expounding upon his very own, distinctly Scottish brand of received wisdom.

Scarred by experience, he is obstinate and distrustful. At the same time, he can be kind and emotional in the same breath. In England he'd be referred to as the salt of the earth. He is the no-nonsense, tough guy, steeped in Presbyterian pessimism, who dresses badly and secretly loves books and music. He likes the company of women, but is unprepared to compromise his work ethic.

As a result, he eats junk food to pump up his cholesterol. He drinks IPAwith a chaser, yet here comes another surprise. He knows a good dram when he scents it, mainly because it helps him to escape from the selfconstructed image of his own futility, an image that finds him ‘at his happiest when in denial.' Of course, others know better.

As his creator, the best-selling author Ian Rankin, concedes, “There are layers to his personality, and many of those layers stay hidden, in the grand Scots tradition.” It was only a matter of time before somebody came up with the idea of bottling him as a cask strength sing...

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