Read Strip Jack Online

Authors: Ian Rankin

Strip Jack

Praise for Ian Rankin

‘Rankin weaves his plot with a menacing ease . . . His prose is understated, yet his canvas of Scotland’s criminal underclass has a panoramic breadth. His ear for dialogue is as sharp as a switchblade. This is, quite simply, crime writing of the highest order’

Daily Telegraph

‘A series that shows no signs of flagging . . . Assured, sympathetic to contemporary foibles, humanistic, this is more than just a police procedural as the character of Rebus grows in moral stature . . . Rankin is the head capo of the MacMafia’

Time Out

‘Rankin has followed one success with another. Sardonic and assured, the novel has a powerful and well-paced narrative. What is striking is the way Rankin uses his laconic prose as a literary paint stripper, scouring away pretensions to reveal the unwholesome reality beneath’

Independent

‘Rankin strips Edinburgh’s polite façade to its gritty skeleton’

The Times

‘A teeming Ellroy-esque evocation of life at the sharp end in modern Scotland . . . Rankin is the finest Scottish crime writer to emerge since William McIvanney’

GQ

‘Rebus resurgent . . . a brilliantly meshed plot which delivers on every count on its way to a conclusion as unexpected as it is inevitable. Eleventh in the series. Still making waves’

Literary Review

‘His fiction buzzes with energy . . . Essentially, he is a romantic storyteller in the tradition of Robert Louis Stevenson . . . His prose is as vivid and terse as the next man’s yet its flexibility and rhythm give it potential for lyrical expression which is distinctly Rankin’s own’

Scotland on Sunday

‘Top notch . . . the bleakness is unrelenting, but it quite suits Mr Rankin who does his best work in the dark’

New York Times

‘The internal police politics and corruption in high places are both portrayed with bone-freezing accuracy. This novel should come with a wind-chill factor warning’

Daily Telegraph

‘Detective Inspector Rebus makes the old-style detectives with their gentle or bookish backgrounds, Alleyn, Morse, Dalgliesh, look like wimps . . . Rankin is brilliant at conveying the genuine stench of seedy places on the dark side of Scotland’

Sunday Telegraph

‘It’s the banter and energy, the immense carnival of scenes and charaters, voices and moods that set Rankin apart. His stories are like a transmission forever in the red zone, at the edge of burnout. This is crime fiction at its best’

Washington Post

Born in the Kingdom of Fife in 1960, Ian Rankin graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1982, and then spent three years writing novels when he was supposed to be working towards a PhD in Scottish Literature. His first Rebus novel,
Knots and Crosses
, was published in 1987, and the Rebus books are now translated into over thirty languages and are bestsellers worldwide.

Ian Rankin has been elected a Hawthornden Fellow, and is also a past winner of the Chandler-Fulbright Award. He is the recipient of four Crime Writers’ Association Dagger Awards including the prestigious Diamond Dagger in 2005 and in 2009 was inducted into the CWA Hall of Fame. In 2004, Ian won America’s celebrated Edgar award for
Resurrection Men
. He has also been shortlisted for the Anthony Awards in the USA, and won Denmark’s
Palle Rosenkrantz
Prize, the French
Grand Prix du Roman Noir
and the
Deutscher Krimipreis
. Ian Rankin is also the recipient of honorary degrees from the universities of Abertay, St Andrews, Edinburgh, Hull and the Open University.

A contributor to BBC2’s
Newsnight Review
, he also presented his own TV series,
Ian Rankin’s Evil Thoughts
. He has received the OBE for services to literature, opting to receive the prize in his home city of Edinburgh. He has also recently been appointed to the rank of Deputy Lieutenant of Edinburgh, where he lives with his partner and two sons. Visit his website at
www.ianrankin.net
.

By Ian Rankin
The Inspector Rebus series
Knots & Crosses –
paperback

ebook
Hide & Seek –
paperback

ebook
Tooth & Nail –
paperback

ebook
Strip Jack –
paperback

ebook
The Black Book –
paperback

ebook
Mortal Causes –
paperback

ebook
Let it Bleed –
paperback

ebook
Black & Blue –
paperback

ebook
The Hanging Garden –
paperback

ebook
Death Is Not The End (
novella
)
Dead Souls –
paperback

ebook
Set in Darkness –
paperback

ebook
The Falls –
paperback

ebook
Resurrection Men –
paperback

ebook
A Question of Blood –
paperback

ebook
Fleshmarket Close –
paperback

ebook
The Naming of the Dead –
paperback

ebook
Exit Music –
paperback

ebook
Other Novels
The Flood –
paperback

ebook
Watchman –
paperback

ebook
Westwind
A Cool Head (
Quickread
) –
paperback

ebook
Doors Open –
paperback

ebook
The Complaints –
paperback

ebook
Writing as Jack Harvey
Witch Hunt –
paperback

ebook
Bleeding Hearts –
paperback

ebook
Blood Hunt –
paperback

ebook
Short Stories
A Good Hanging and Other Stories –
paperback

ebook
Beggars Banquet –
paperback

ebook
Non-Fiction
Rebus’s Scotland –
paperback
Ian Rankin
Strip Jack
To the only Jack I’ve ever stripped

He knows nothing; and he thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political career.

Shaw,
Major Barbara

The habit of friendship is matured by constant intercourse.

Libianus, 4th century AD, quoted in
Edinburgh
,
by Charles McKean
Contents

Cover

Title

Dedication

Praise for Ian Rankin

About the Author

By Ian Rankin

Acknowledgements

Introduction

1. The Milking Shed

2. Scratching the Surface

3. Treacherous Steps

4. Tips

5. Up the River

6. Highland Games

7. Duthil

8. Spite and Malice

9. Within Range

10. Brothel Creepers

11. Old School Ties

12. Escort Service

13. Hot-Head

Reading Group Notes

Copyright

Acknowledgements

The first thing to acknowledge is that the constituency of North and South Esk is the author’s creation. However, you don’t need to be Mungo Park to work out that there must be some correlation between North and South Esk and the real world, Edinburgh being a real place, and ‘south and east of Edinburgh’ being a vaguely definable geographical area.

In fact, North and South Esk bears
some
resemblance to the Midlothian parliamentary constituency – prior to 1983’s Boundary Commission changes – but also bites a small southernmost chunk out of the present Edinburgh Pentlands constituency and a westerly chunk out of East Lothian constituency.

Gregor Jack, too, is fiction, and bears no resemblance to any MP.

Thanks are due to the following for their inestimable help; Alex Eadie, who was until his retirement the MP for Midlothian; John Home Robertson MP; Professor Busuttil, Regius Professor of Forensic Medicine, University of Edinburgh; Lothian and Borders Police; City of Edinburgh Police; the staff of the Edinburgh Room, Edinburgh Central Library; the staff of the National Library of Scotland; staff and customers of Sandy Bell’s, the Oxford Bar, Mather’s (West End), Clark’s Bar and the Green Tree.

Strip Jack
was the first of the Rebus novels to be written entirely in the rundown French farmhouse which I’d moved to with my wife in 1990. Our first couple of years there, we put most of our effort into doing the place up: rewiring, putting up ceilings, and trying to cultivate the acre of brambled wilderness around us. The attic became my office. It was accessed by a rickety wooden ladder and a trapdoor. The floor was so badly warped that any pens placed on the desk would roll off with frightening speed. The decor consisted of bus maps of central Edinburgh, postcards of the city’s monuments, and a list of police regions in Scotland.

Yet little of our French idyll seeped into the book. Quite the opposite: it’s one of my most Scottish works, perhaps in reaction to the previous novel’s London setting. Words such as ‘brae’, ‘keech’, ‘birl’, and ‘haar’ creep in. Whisky is referred to as ‘the cratur’, while ‘ba-heid’ is used as a term of insult. Many of the words, such as ‘shoogly’ and ‘peching’, were favourites of my father: it’s possible I was thinking of him as I wrote. This was my first book since his funeral in 1990. Certainly, he was the only person I’d ever heard say, ‘If shit was gold, ye’d have a tyke at yer erse,’ words I would now give to Rebus’s own father.

To reinforce the book’s Scottishness, I suggested its original jacket design – a lion rampant flying cheekily from the Houses of Parliament. But as well as being very Scottish in its language,
Strip Jack
also seems to me a less
savage and biting book than my three previous efforts in the series. This could be due to a change in family circumstances. My wife Miranda became pregnant in 1991, and our son Jack was born in February 1992. This is why
Strip Jack
is dedicated to ‘the only Jack I’ve ever stripped’ – something which now makes my teenage son cringe, of course.

The title came from a compendium of card games. I’d been looking for something which would reflect the playfulness of
Knots & Crosses
and
Hide & Seek
, and had compiled lists of children’s and adults’ games and pastimes. The card game ‘Strip Jack Naked’ appealed to me: I could give my chief suspect in the book the surname Jack. It seemed, after all, that someone was out to strip him of his standing, his good name – maybe even his life. The three-word title seemed clumsy, however, so I shortened it to two.

Curiously, it was only in leaving Scotland that I began really to become interested in my native country’s history and politics. I started to devour books on these subjects, and would return to Edinburgh three or four times a year, usually begging a bed or sofa at a friend’s place. I would take long walks around the city, using up rolls of film in my cheap camera, and spending hours in the various libraries. Now that I was a full-time writer, I felt a fresh obligation to get the details right. For
Strip Jack
, I wrote to the University of Edinburgh’s Pathology Department, and was granted a meeting with Professor Anthony Busuttil. He became responsible for much of the forensic detail in the book (and in others in the series). When Dr Curt speaks of ‘diatoms’ and ‘washerwoman’s skin’, it is really Professor Busuttil talking. That first meeting was memorable in that the Professor momentarily mistook me
for a police officer and began discussing the case of a slashed throat. As he started to bring out the autopsy photos, my greying face told him he’d made a mistake . . .

Other books

Lady Alexandra's Lover by Helen Hardt
Hybrid's Love by Seraphina Donavan