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Issue 68 - Wallace and whisky

Whisky Magazine Issue 68
December 2007

 

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Wallace and whisky

Jefferson Chase turns his attentions to Scottish grown authors.

For the next few columns, I thought we'd have a wee look at the genre of “tartan noir.” Scottish crime fiction comes in a variety of hues and shades. Christopher Wallace's mesmerizingly creepy 1999 novel The Resurrection Club is more noir than tartan.

Part detective story, part Gothic horror trip and part historical novel, Resurrection contains multiple plot lines and is set in both 19th- and 20th-century Edinburgh. The book begins with a PR executive, Charles Kidd, meeting a client who wants him to promote an unspecified performance-art event. They meet in an unusual location: Pershall Cemetary. A large white marble stone towering above the other memorials, resting in the centre of a grassy mound. One of the first things Peter Dexter had taken me to see on this tour of Edinburgh – part of my initial briefing on the requirements of his account. We had been going over an hour and I was yet to hear a mention of the gallery or the cultural programmes that would seduce the corporate sponsors. Rain. A dreech April morning, a spring day to gladden only a true Calvinist's heart.

Before long the story flashes back to 1829, the tail-end of the Scottish Enlightenment, and a grisly historical fact – the practice of graverobbing to supply the city's growing number of more-or-less reputable anatomists.

19th-century anatomy lectures were as much public horror shows as scientific demonstrations, and one pair of infamous ruffians, Burke and Hare, went down in history for creating ...

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