A NEW crime novel features police officers who are members of the Orange Order.
The Dark Remains, co-written by Scottish authors Ian Rankin and William McIlvanney, is set in Glasgow in 1972.
Mr Rankin, who was in Northern Ireland this past week to appear at the Belfast Book Festival, said: “These cops could not be cops now — they are in the Orange Order.”
The novel, which focuses on McIlvanney’s detective Jack Laidlaw, recently won the Sunday Times crime and thriller novel of the year prize at a ceremony in London.
It is based on notes left by the late McIlvanney, whose trio of Laidlaw novels made a comeback in recent years.
Rankin agreed to complete the book with a clause that he could walk away if he felt it was not working.
“It’s about 30 percent Willy and 70 percent me,” he told an audience at Belfast’s Crescent Arts Centre.
Rankin, who enjoyed a pint in The Crown before his talk, pointed out that few crime novels set in Northern Ireland were published during the Troubles.
The Edinburgh writer said he believed crime fiction was best when the action is set after time has been allowed to pass.
“A lot of crime novels came out of [Northern Ireland] after the Troubles,” he added.
He said he had to decide whether to include the Covid pandemic and Brexit in his next Rebus novel, which is due out in October, when Rankin will be back in Belfast.
The book will be called A Heart Full of Headstones, with the title taken from a song by the late singer Jackie Leven.
Rankin is a regular in Belfast, where his wife Miranda was born, and is a huge supporter of the No Alibis bookshop on Botanic Avenue.
After a busy year in which he was knighted, the novelist is planning to take a year off.
“My wife is an adventurer — she wants to travel. We might go to Japan,” he told the Northern Irish crime writer Brian McGilloway, who interviewed him during the talk.
“They say you shouldn’t meet your heroes, but this has been great,” Mr McGilloway said.