Fleshmarket Close (Le Masque, 2008, trad. de l’anglais (Écosse) par Daniel Lemoine)

Ian Rankin, King of the black Tartan !”- James Ellroy

Ian Rankin was born in the small village of Cardenden that he dubbed “Car Dead-end”. The Ken Loach-style village held 7,000 inhabitants and not one of them could have foreseen he would one day become a writer. Finishing high school was all he was ever encouraged to do. Yet one of his teachers recognized his talent and encouraged him to go to university. So he made his way to Edinburgh where he embarked on a PhD in Scottish literature. It was a long and winding road from Candenden to becoming the King of the black Tartan. Just out of university, Ian Rankin held the most improbable of jobs. Indeed, he worked as a grape-picker, swineherd, taxman, alcohol researcher, hi-fi journalist, college secretary and punk musician with a band called the Dancing Pigs. He has always had a real passion for music.
1986 marked a major turning point in his life. He got married and published The Flood, a partly autobiographical growing up novel. One year later, he published Knots and Crosses, the first volume in the Inspector Rebus series. Rebus has become one of the most famous investigators of the second half of the twentieth century. He is an alcoholic, a big smoker, has no self-discipline, is in perpetual conflict with his hierarchy, is a rock and roll fan, reads Dostoyevsky and never hesitates to bring up a touristy cliché about Edinburgh. Inspector Rebus is the personification of Edinburgh, but such is the distinguishing feature of any good detective story. Rankin has said that Rebus is like Edinburgh, he never opens up completely. He keeps his emotions under lock and key. Each book reveals a different aspect of his personality, but never the whole. The same goes for Edinburgh. It is impossible to know the city through and through.
At the start, Knots and Crosses was, for Ian Rankin, just one of the many literary projects he had developed. He had not thought of turning it into a series and did not consider it a crime story. He found it profoundly disturbing when the reviews pegged it as such and book stores shelved it in their crime section. He was devastated as he was working on his PhD and aspiring to a career as a professor of English at the university. He had drawn the inspiration for his novel from Stevenson’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
He quickly turned to a different genre and wrote two spy stories one after another. And it was only in 1991 that he, by general request, published a second Rebus novel, Hide and Seek. He states that he still wasn’t convinced he was a crime writer. He felt he was commenting on the state of the Scottish society, its fads, its psychoses, and the errors of its ways. He felt he was dissecting a nation.
Since then, he has written approximately twenty episodes in the Rebus series which has been translated into twenty-six languages. Four episodes have been adapted to the small screen. He spent seven years in the South of France where he actually wrote the seventh in the series that brought him great success, Black and Blue.
Rankin was awarded the Order of the British Empire, and four honorary doctorates by various universities. He is the most popular crime writer in the UK.
In 2002, Ian Rankin produced a TV documentary, Evil Thoughts. He has remained very keen on music. He likes to refer to himself as a failed rock star.
Inspector Rebus is now close to fifty-five years of age and Rankin warned us in one of his books that Edinburgh policemen retire at 60. It is such a tragedy for his fans that a Scottish Member of Parliament even tabled a bill to up the age of retirement for Scottish policemen from 60 to 65. Fortunately, the bill was not passed. However, the minister of Justice stated that the law did not prevent retired policemen from training the young guard. But that does not quite seem to be up Rebus’s street.

En français


Ian Rankin’s official website


Inspector Rebus novels :

  • Exit Music (2007)
  • The Naming of the Dead (2006)
  • Fleshmarket Close (2004)
  • A Question of Blood (2003)
  • Resurrection Men (2002)
  • The Falls (2001)
  • Set in Darkness (2000)
  • Dead Souls (1999)
  • The Hanging Garden (1998)
  • Black and Blue (1997)
  • Let it Bleed (1995)
  • Mortal Causes (1994)
  • The Black Book (1993)
  • Strip Jack (1992)
  • Tooth and Nail
  • Hide and Seek (1991)
  • Knots and Crosses (1987)

Jack Harvey novels

  • Blood Hunt (1995)
  • Bleeding Hearts (1994)
  • Witch Hunt (1993)

Other Novels

  • A Cool Head (2009)
  • Doors Open (2008)
  • The Flood (1986 re-released with new introduction in 2005)
  • Watchman (1988, reissued with a new introduction in 2004)

Short Story Collections

  • Beggars Banquet (2002)
  • A Good Hanging and Other Stories (1992)


  • Rebus’s Scotland : A Personal Journey (2005)

Synopsis of Fleshmarket Close  :

An illegal immigrant is found murdered in an Edinburgh housing scheme : a racist attack, or something else entirely ? Rebus is drawn into the case, but has other problems : his old police station has closed for business, and his masters would rather he retire than stick around. But Rebus is that most stubborn of creatures. As Rebus investigates, he must visit an asylum seekers’ detention centre, deal with the sleazy Edinburgh underworld, and maybe even fall in love...Siobhan meanwhile has problems of her own. A teenager has disappeared from home and Siobhan is drawn into helping the family, which will mean travelling closer than is healthy towards the web of a convicted rapist. Then there’s the small matter of the two skeletons - a woman and an infant - found buried beneath a concrete cellar floor in Fleshmarket Close. The scene begins to look like an elaborate stunt - but whose, and for what purpose ? And how can it tie to the murder on the unforgiving housing-scheme known as Knoxland ? »"Ian Rankin, King of the black Tartan !”- James Ellroy


Edition du Masque - 2012

Plaintes Le service des plaintes (The complaints) : les flics qui enquêtent sur d’autres flics. Malcom Fox est inspecteur dans ce service et on ne l’aime pas beaucoup. Il est solitaire, ne boit pas (ou plus), a une vie plutôt tranquille, sans éclat. Il vient juste de boucler une enquête et de mettre sur la touche un flic ripoux. Il devrait être content du résultat. Mais il a d’autres problèmes sur le dos. On vient de lui assigner une nouvelle mission : faire surveiller un inspecteur, Jamie Breck, soupçonné d’échanger des photos pédophiles sur Internet. Fox se met au travail et découvre qu’il y beaucoup plus dans l’affaire Breck qu’on ne le croit, d’autant plus qu’un meurtre crapuleux est commis bien trop près de chez lui …

Portes ouvertes

Edition du Masque - 2011

Trois compères décident de voler des tableaux à l’occasion de la journée « Portes ouvertes » de la National Gallery d’Edimbourg. Mike, 37 ans, a fait fortune en créant des logiciels informatiques. Il s’ennuie ferme, et est fasciné par Calloway, un ancien camarade d’école qui est devenu un gangster renommé. Robert Gissing, directeur de l’Institut d’Art, va bientôt prendre sa retraite et a envie d’un cadeau de départ plus substantiel qu’une montre en or. Et Allan, le banquier, rêve d’accrocher deux œuvres bien précises chez lui. Seulement, monter un casse requiert des compétences, pas seulement de la matière grise. Et des relations dans le milieu. Tout se complique très vite, surtout lorsqu’il faut louer les services d’un étudiant pour réaliser des faux… L’engrenage se révèle infernal, mais le trio a de la ressource. Expert en fausses pistes et retournements de situation, Rankin mène avec éclat cette fable immorale, et nous surprend jusqu’au bout.

L’appel des morts

Edition du Masque - 2009

Le rire, arme fatale

Les cafés littéraires
Avec Maarten Troost, Patrick Rambaud, Ian Rankin et Alain Berenboom - Saint-Malo 2012

Avec Maarten Troost, Patrick Rambaud, Ian Rankin et Alain Berenboom

Le roman de la ville

Les grands débats en vidéo
Saint-Malo 2012

Avec Makenzy Orcel, Cathi Unsworth, Ian Rankin, Diane Meur. Animé par Kerenne Elkaim.

Polars du monde entier

Les cafés littéraires
Avec Moussa KONATE, Ian RANKIN, Naïri NAHAPETIAN, Craig JOHNSON - Saint-Malo 2009

Le roman de la ville

Avec Makenzy Orcel, Cathi Unsworth, Ian Rankin et Diane Meur - Saint-Malo 2012

Avec Makenzy Orcel, Cathi Unsworth, Ian Rankin et Diane Meur. Une rencontre animée par Kerenn Elkaim

La loi du réel

Saint-Malo 2009
Samedi : 15h15 La loi du réel
Ian Rankin, Eric Miles Williamson. Animé par Josianne Guéguen