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Following in detective’s footsteps is a capital thrill

His books already draw heavily on reality – but now fans of the best-selling Scottish novelist Quintin Jardine can immerse themselves even more deeply in his world.

Crime scenes where his characters have met untimely deaths are to feature in a new ­literary tour which follows in the footsteps of his fictional ­detective Bob Skinner.

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The author, whose latest book, Fatal Last Words, has made it on to the bestseller lists, said he hoped the tour round Edinburgh would help readers connect with his characters and locations.

Jardine joins an illustrious group of authors, including Arthur Conan Doyle, Walter Scott and JK Rowling, whose artistic ventures have been transformed into literary tours. His venture was launched yesterday and a donation of the earnings from the £10 walk will go to the charity Poppy Scotland, which supports war veterans.

Jardine said: “Many people who do the tour will be from greater Edinburgh, and for those people it will give them a deeper insight into the books themselves. People from outside Edinburgh will be able to see the locations for the first time.”

Deputy Chief Constable Bob Skinner first appeared in print in 1993 with the publication of Skinner’s Rules, which Jardine began four years earlier.

Jardine, who worked as a journalist and government information officer before turning to ­fiction writing, said: “It (crime) is a form of creative writing that appeals to most people. Why? Possibly because everybody

has an interest in crime and punishment. Everybody has an interest in seeing the bad guy get his.

“I ­started 20 years ago. I was a journalist and was in public ­relations and so was writing. But I always had the urge to be a bit more creative.

“One of the reasons I left the Scottish Office after nine years was that it was completely ­stultifying. You more or less weren’t allowed to use adjectives. My search for adjectives led me to crime fiction.”

Jardine first started writing when he was in Spain, where he now spends most of his time. “The first thing on the page was a drop of sweat. I had to take myself out of Spain to diametrically different conditions,”

he said.

“I put myself in Edinburgh in November, pissing down, and at that time I was a consultant with the Faculty of Advocates.

“So what is in Advocate’s Close but a dead Advocate? Advocate’s Close is the very first scene: that is where it all began.

“Skinner began as a high-flyer who had already flown, and that is what makes him different from most other fictional cops. I didn’t want him to be stuck in the middle ranks for ever.

“Initially he is a bit of an over-the-top character, not quite super hero, but he had that element about him, and as the series evolved he has become more real.

“His character flaws are beginning to emerge. I am going to go into the other side of his character in much more depth.

Skinner 21 is written already and it is going to be radically different from anything that has gone before.”

The tour comes after the celebration of writers including Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson and Robert Burns with such events as the Edinburgh Book Lovers’ Tour, the Literary Pub Crawl and the Trainspotting Tour. Rowling fans, meanwhile, can visit a cafe that claims to be the birthplace of Harry Potter.

There is also, of course, the Rebus tour, taking Ian Rankin’s readers around the haunts of his legendary detective.

Jardine said of the two cops: “There is no comparison. When Ian started to write I wasn’t around, and when I had started to write to be honest I had never heard of the Rebus books. We are different writers and they are completely different characters, because we see things in a ­different way.

“I’ve got loads of time for Rebus and I miss him. There’s room in Edinburgh and there’s room in the world for Skinner and Rebus.”

Dates and times for the tour, which lasts two hours, vary throughout the year but details can be found at www.edinburghsaintsandsinners.co.uk

Behind the lines

Quintin Jardine was born in Motherwell but has spent most of his working life in and around Edinburgh.

He has worked as a journalist, government information officer, Tory spin-doctor and media relations consultant to the Faculty of Advocates.

The 64-year-old’s Bob Skinner novels are set in Edinburgh, and are built around the adventures of the city’s fictional deputy chief constable, labelled “Britain’s toughest cop”.

Along with the Oz and Primavera Blackstone mystery series, he has published 30 novels.

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