For anyone who has ever read any of Ian Rankin’s Rebus novels, then the answer is almost certainly “yes”.
The Edinburgh that Rebus inhabits is not the Edinburgh seen by the tourists as they wander from the Castle down towards Holyrood House. There are no jolly pipers or happy-go-lucky tour guides. The pubs don’t welcome outsiders with open arms and you won’t always find haggis on the menu. The strange thing is that Rebus’s Edinburgh still feels absolutely real. It’s still totally recognisable as Edinburgh – all the key elements are present and correct – but because it has been stripped of all the adornments, what you are left with is the pure product. More real, more vivid and a lot more dangerous.
There is no doubt that Edinburgh is more than simply a backdrop to the Rebus tales, it’s an essential part of the fabric of the story. It is very much a character, whose relationship with Rebus is just as important as all his other relationships, possibly more so. And although, there are other writers who base their stories in and around a specific location e.g. Stephen King and Maine, the role of Edinburgh in the Rebus stories is special
Now I’m not comparing myself to Ian Rankin – there’s a long way to go to get there – however, where I have tried to emulate him, is in the way he’s made the location a critical part of the Rebus mythology. Where he has Edinburgh, I have Cardiff – which is a bit of a doubled edged sword. Cardiff doesn’t have anything like the history of many major cities – it is one of Europe’s youngest capitals – and it’s nowhere near as well known. However, Wales, as a whole, is chocked full of history so there is a LOT of material to mine for ideas. I think the fact that this is not just a detective story also helps. By giving the story more supernatural element, certainly opens up ways of using that rich history that otherwise would be quite tricky.
The Cardiff of The Greyfield is probably recognisable to anyone who knows the city pretty well. Most places of interest are where they should be and several real locations get a mention in the story, including Cardiff Bay, The Millennium Centre, The St. Davids Hotel, Whitchurch Village and my old school, Ysgol Glantaf. But, at the same time, I hope that there is something slightly wrong about it as well, just enough to stop people from getting too comfortable.
You can judge for yourselves when The Greyfield goes on sale on March 1st