WITH the referendum just days away, here are 10 Scottish political novels that may help you put things into perspective.
All, oddly enough, are written by men.
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By Sir Walter Scott
In 1765 Darsie Latimer sets out to discover the secret of his parentage in a journey to Dumfriesshire. Soon kidnapped by the eponymous Redgauntlet, he becomes involved in a bid to restore the Stuarts to the throne. Top notch.
By Frederic Lindsay
A student witnesses the murder of a child and soon after meets the murderer, Brond. Set against a backdrop of rising nationalism. Highly readable, hugely intelligent.
By Eric Linklater
Dreamer Magnus Merriman would like to remake Scotland in his overblown image. As Alan Bold remarked in his introduction to a new edition, "Linklater assumes a certain familiarity with the aims and personalities of Scotland's politico-cultural renaissance." Translation: he knew what he was talking about.
SCOTCH ON The ROCKS
By Douglas Hurd and Andrew Osmond
First published in 1971, it imagines a paramilitary organisation operating on the fringes of the SNP. Full of "what if" jiggery-pokery. Highly controversial in its day.
AND THE LAND LAY STILL
By James Robertson
Want to know how we got to this pass? Look no further than Robertson's magnum opus, in which activists fighting for Home Rule figure significantly. Great memories are made of this.
ONE NIGHT IN WINTER
By Allan Massie
Who killed Fraser Donnelly? That's what Dallas Graham, Massie's narrator, hopes to clarify. Involved are members of the peerage, MPs and anyone who attended one of the victim's parties. Jolly good.
THE THIRTY-NiNE STEPS
By John Buchan
Has ever such a badly-written book survived so well? Here's Richard Hannay in his pomp, posing as a "radical candidate" in the Borders where he agrees to speak in "an infernal Tory stronghold". His subject? Australia where, he insists, there are no Tories. Spookily like Scotland now.
By Iain Banks
A gonzo hack working at a paper thinks he's stumbled on a scoop. Bizarre murders abound. There's politics aplenty. A speed read.
SET IN DARKNESS
By Ian Rankin
What a boon Holyrood is for novelists. Luckily for DI Rebus it's in the middle of his patch. Among the bodies piling up is that of Roddy Grieve, a prospective MSP. He was once described as "Scottish Labour's Mr Fixit, because of his ability to brush away the sand from the party's many landmines and set about defusing them". Explosive stuff.
THE NEXT BIG THING
By Michael Russell
As far as we know the Cabinet Secretary for Education is the only published novelist in the government. "Worth reading for the comment on Scotland today," says one Amazon reviewer.