ONE of Scotland’s leading crime writers, Denise Mina, is used to putting her fans through the wringer.
But it was her turn to feel the chill when she visited Edinburgh Castle to research a story.
She said: “My pal and I were given a behind-the-scenes tour to all the parts visitors don’t see, like John Maclean’s cell, wooden walkways above a sheer cliff and toilets that soldiers used which had an 80ft drop.
“It felt like a real honour and privilege that we got to see it.
“The guide also took us to David’s Tower, which is the oldest part of the castle.
“We went down this shoogly 50ft staircase. He told us it was safe but it was swinging.
“I’m not great with heights and I wanted to stop half way down and start crying. It was like gripping on to a cliff face.”
Denise, from Glasgow, was one of 12 Tartan Noir authors asked to write a story set in an iconic Scottish location for new book, Bloody Scotland.
Iconic Scottish buildings are the starting point for a dozen leading crime writers in this brilliant collection, writes Louise Fairbairn The Bloody Scotland crime writing festival turns six this weekend, and to celebrate it has produced this anthology in association with Historic Environment Scotland (HES) as part of Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.
A dozen top Scots crime writers celebrate 12 of the country’s greatest built sites by setting a story in each place. In his introduction to these 12 tales tall and true, HES publisher James Crawford describes the collection as “a tribute to two of our nation’s greatest assets”, and the selected authors showcase both the breadth of Scotland’s built wonders and the myriad styles and sensibilities that make up its flourishing crime writing scene.
Val McDermid and Denise Mina have been named among the five finalists for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Book of the Year 2017.
The other three contenders for the overall prize are Craig Russell, Jay Stringer and Craig Robertson.
A panel of judges including comedian and crime fan Susan Calman, writer Craig Sisterson and programmer of Granite Noir, Lee Randall, whittled down the final five from a 12-strong longlist featuring “some of the best names in Scottish crime fiction”.
Russell has won the award before, Robertson is one of the founders of Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival, while the judges described Stringer as a “relative unknown”.
McDermid has been shortlisted for Out of Bounds (Little, Brown), which follows protagonist Karen Pirie, who the judges say is “one of the most engaging and charismatic of all the fictional Scottish Detectives”. Mina’s “elegantly written” The Long Drop (Random House), “confirms Denise Mina’s stature among the great Scottish crime writers” according to the judges, while Russell’s The Quiet Death of Thomas Quaid (Quercus), has been praised for being an “assured riff on a classic noir caper which reveals Glasgow in all its gritty and compelling glory”.
Robertson’s Murderabilia (Simon & Schuster) features “an intriguing premise in a contemporary setting which tiptoes along the darker edges of crime fiction with an unusual detective at its heart”, while Stringer’s How to Kill Friends and Implicate People (Thomas & Mercer) is an “unexpected and explosive novel” which proves the writer has “reached the major league of Scottish crime fiction”, the judges said.
Judge Sisterson said: “Reading the books for the prize has been a pleasure and a privilege, and has convinced me that Tartan Noir is a sparkling gem on the global crime-writing stage.”
The winner is to be announced at the opening reception of Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival at Stirling Castle on Friday 8th September. The award recognises excellence in Scottish crime writing, includes a prize of £1,000 and nationwide promotion in Waterstones.