Author Archives: Birlinn

October is Crime Month on The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Scottish Literature

Podcast Logo1As the darker nights creep in, Kristian and I bring you the latest episode of our podcast The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Scottish Literature, where we will be celebrating one of Scotland’s great exports: crime fiction. Kristian and I will be taking a look at Ian Rankin’s Black & Blue, the 8th Rebus thriller, and the novel which broke him – and Rebus – into the mainstream.

There aren’t many people now who haven’t heard of John Rebus, and 2017 sees the 30th anniversary of our introduction to Rankin’s grizzled, maverick detective. Yet despite the early novels being set in the late 80s and 90s, there is a lot in those early Rebus novels, and especially in Black and Blue, that still feels relevant now. But the novels also speak of a Scotland, and a world, undergoing huge social, cultural and technological changes, and it was fascinating to read of settings contemporary to mine and Kristian’s lifetimes, but now regarded as modern history. No Scottish Parliament! No mobile phones! No Google! No digital footprints! Policing too has changed in so many ways.

ONE LAST DRAM BEFORE MIDNIGHT finalAnd for something completely different. We shine a spotlight on our crime writing rising star, Denzil Meyrick, with a reading from his latest short story collection, One Last Dram Before Midnight, released just this month. If you’ve not come across Denzil before, we recommend you get cracking with his DCI Daley series of books, which kicks off with Whisky From Small Glasses. Denzil has written five DCI Daley thrillers now, starring DCI Daley, displaced from the mean streets of Glasgow to uncover the dirty secrets of the idyllic yet post-industrial Campbeltown on Scotland’s west coast.

One Last Dram Before Midnight includes two prequel short stories, and we have a reading from the story ‘Two One Three’, which sees Daley as a new face on the beat in Glasgow facing his first murder investigation.

So, cosy in, have a listen, and enjoy!

Vikki Reilly, October 2017

Listen to the latest podcast on SoundCloud below and make sure you never miss out by subscribing on iTunes:

The latest episode of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Scottish Literature available now

Podcast Logo1As we recover from the excitement of Edinburgh’s festival month, Kristian and I are delighted to bring you the latest episode of our podcast The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Scottish Literature. This time round we are celebrating Robert Louis Stevenson, in a roundabout way, by taking a look at Emma Tennant’s feminist reworking of the iconic The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde with her equally fantastic and frightening novel Two Women of London.

And reading Emma Tennant seems timely; her update feels entirely modern despite being written and set in the Thatcherite ’80s. It takes in the consequences of gentrification, the growing gulf between rich and poor, the demands made of women in a violent, consumerist society, all told through a collection of art pieces, letters, journal entries and interviews that builds, layer by layer, a compelling mystery shot through with anxiety, paranoia, jealousy and jet black humour. Sadly, Emma Tennant died earlier this year, so if you haven’t introduced yourself to her work before, it’s time to get started!

Robert Louis Stevenson AnthologyWe’ll be sticking with the Stevenson reimaginings with an interview with our very own Kevin MacNeil, who himself took on that very same Stevenson story with his second novel A Method Actor’s Guide to Jekyll and Hyde. He has also just edited an anthology of Robert Louis Stevenson work as curated by Jorge Luis Borges & Adolfo Bioy Casares back in the last century, which, until now, has never been published. We were delighted to rectify that, and launched it at the book festival this year. We chat about the timelessness of Stevenson’s work and how literary influence doesn’t necessarily follow linear time.

So, kick back, have a listen, then go back to the books!

Vikki Reilly, September 2017

You can listen to the podcast, and catch up on all previous episodes, on iTunes, or listen below on SoundCloud:

A new episode of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Scottish Literature is now available

Podcast Logo1As we head into the excitement of Edinburgh’s festival month, Kristian and I are delighted to bring you the latest episode of our podcast A Hitchhiker’s Guide to Scottish Literature! We have a raft of Birlinn writers at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in this 25th anniversary year, and we hope you toddle along to Charlotte Square to join in in all the booky chat. In the meantime, Kristian and I are delving deep in Scotland’s divided self in this podcast episode, where we take a look at James Hogg’s classic novel, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner.

Hogg’s novel is an unclassifiable masterpiece, straddling many themes and genres. It can be billed as a classic gothic horror, a satire on bigotry and hypocrisy, an acute representation of mental breakdown, an exploration of totalitarian modes of thought, a way-ahead-of-its-time post-modern study on the nature of truth and authorship. It was hard trying to contain our conversation – there’s so much to say about this wonderful book.

Enlightenment EdinburghWe stay within the same period and setting with an interview with the fascinating Sheila Szatkowski who is an expert in all things Enlightenment Edinburgh and has just written an excellent guide to the people, places, and ideas of the period. She really brings the city of the time alive in this new book, and invites the reader to get exploring – you will definitely discover something you didn’t know before as you read.

So, let’s step back in time and celebrate a most intriguing time in Scotland’s history . . .

Have a look on our website at some similar titles:


Enlightenment Edinburgh: A Guide

The Capital of the Mind

Agreeable Connexions

Brilliant Lives

You can listen to episode 5 on Soundcloud or iTunes.