OUTSIDE the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, crowds are gathering in anticipation of catching sight – or rather whiff – of the rotten, flesh-like smell of the famed corpse flower that is fleetingly in bloom beyond the gates.
As Val McDermid and I join the throng, it is corpses of a different kind that spring to mind. This month the Fife-born writer will publish her latest novel, Insidious Intent, which centres on a serial killer who stalks his victims at wedding receptions.
McDermid, 62, is often asked whether advances in forensic science have undone the job of the crime writer. The thriller, which sees DCI Carol Jordan and psychological profiler Tony Hill return for their 10th outing, cleverly turns that notion on its head.
THERE’S been something of a changing of the guard in the talented and successful world of Scottish crime fiction.
With Ian Rankin having threatened to retire his legendary detective John Rebus, there’s a looming vacancy at the top of the Scottish crime writers’ list.
It may just have been filled by Christopher Brookmyre, who last week won Crime Novel of the Year at the Theakston Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival for Black Widow.
The same novel last year scooped the McIlvanney Prize last year at Scotland’s own festival of crime writing, Bloody Scotland.
What’s more, Brookmyre has been nominated for this year’s McIlvanney Prize with his latest novel, Want You Gone.
The prize is named after the late and much-missed William McIlvanney, who is credited with inventing Tartan Noir with his Laidlaw trilogy, though the man who coined the phrase was American crime writer James Ellroy – a great compliment from one of the kings of the crime genre.