A Rebus Puzzle by Ian Rankin

Ian Rankin

A Rebus Puzzle


This summer brought the Edinburgh International Book Festival. In 2020 it all took place online and the 2021 festival was a hybrid, with some writers being beamed in and physical audience numbers restricted. 2022 saw us back to something akin to normal. The largest venue could accommodate 650 spectators and was often filled to capacity. As well as doing an event of my own, I chaired Oliver Bullough’s talk about his latest book, Butler to the World, and was heartened to see a sell-out crowd in attendance to hear to his stories of dodgy financial practices. Behind the scenes, I caught up with writers I only ever seem to see at UK festivals. The sun shone fairly regularly and Edinburgh would have been looking its best had it not been for the bin strike, which gave a faintly post-apocalyptic hue to proceedings.

My novels are almost always published in October, which makes it awkward to know how much to let slip at events such as the Edinburgh Book Festival and Bloody Scotland (which takes place in Stirling each September). Proof copies of my latest have started floating around – always a nerve-racking time. Until they are jiffy-bagged and posted, the only people who’ve read the story and given me feedback are my publisher, my agent and my wife, Miranda. The last of these is naturally the most important. Ours is an old-fashioned relationship in that I print the novel out and hand it over, then try not to interfere as Miranda goes through it, scribbling in the margin. The fewer notes the better as far as I’m concerned, though even a single word (‘Eh?’ ‘What?’ ‘Improbable!’) can be devastating.

During the pandemic I upped my workload in the hope that my brain would be too occupied to spend much time worrying. The result was two novels, one stage play and a TV show, all written within about sixteen months. I’ve been fairly lazy this year – just

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