IT perhaps should come as no surprise that the nation that gave the world such devilish tales as Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde, James Hogg's Confessions of a Justified Sinner, the semi-mythical horror of Sawney Bean and that inspired Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes mysteries should be in love with crime fiction and thrillers.

Figures released today show that the top 20 most borrowed books in Scotland's libraries between July 2012 and June 2013 belong to the genre. Books by English author Lee Child and American James Patterson occupied five out of the top six places, but our own Ian Rankin, Stuart MacBride and Quintin Jardine also featured in the top echelon.

Theories surrounding the popularity of these novels are as numerous and varied as the clues in a classic whodunnit; Scots generally have a dark imagination, and so are unfazed by literary violence, but are also moralistic at heart. We take a keen interest in seeing wrongs righted and like to see order created out of chaos. The genre has been described as "dependable escapism". That may never fall out of fashion.

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