- Mortal Causes
Mortal Causes Author(s) Ian Rankin Country Scotland Language English Genre(s) Detective novel Publisher Orion Books Publication date 1994 Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback) Pages 336 pp ISBN 0-7528-7720-8 OCLC Number 60513002 Preceded by The Black Book Followed by Let it Bleed
Set during the Edinburgh Festival, this novel starts with a brutally executed corpse being discovered in Mary King's Close, an ancient subterranean street. The body has a tattoo identified with "Sword and Shield", a long-thought-defunct Scottish Nationalist group with links to sectarianism in Northern Ireland. The victim turns out to be the son of notorious gangster 'Big Ger' Cafferty, and the plot moves towards the unthinkable prospect of a terrorist atrocity in a tourist-filled Edinburgh.
Connections to other Rankin books
- Scottish Sword and Shield was first mentioned in passing in The Black Book.
- Recurring character "the Weasel" makes his debut.
Writing Mortal Causes
Rankin has stated that one of the minor characters is based on the Northern Irish loyalist paramilitary Billy Wright.
The political background of the plot depicts an alliance between Scottish nationalist fringe groups and loyalist paramilitaries who believe they're being 'sold out' in the peace deal with the IRA. While there is significant support for loyalist paramilitarism in Scotland, radical Scottish nationalist fringe groups are far more likely to support the Irish Republican cause and to see the Republic of Ireland as a partial role model for an independent Scotland.
However, the background also makes a point of showing how the Northern Irish paramilitaries have turned to regular organised crime and are willing to cut deals with each other with money, and much of the scheming is based around criminal deals - the attempted terrorist in the book has no political aims.
Throughout the book, Rebus keeps overhearing parts of a joke about a squid with a moustache that goes into a restaurant. According to Ian Rankin, the punch line is as follows: 'For Hans that does dishes can feel as soft as Gervase with mild, green, hairy-lipped squid'.
The punch line is a reference to the long-running advertising slogan of Fairy Liquid. ("Now hands that do dishes can feel soft as your face, with mild green Fairy Liquid.")
Ian Rankin's Inspector Rebus series Novels Characters
Detective Inspector John Rebus • List of characters from the Inspector Rebus series
NovelsThe Flood (1986) · Knots and Crosses (1987) · Watchman (1988) · Westwind (1990) · Hide and Seek (1991) · Tooth and Nail (1992) · Strip Jack (1992) · The Black Book (1993) · Witch Hunt (1993) · Mortal Causes (1994) · Bleeding Hearts (1994) · Let it Bleed (1995) · Blood Hunt (1995) · Black and Blue (1997) · The Hanging Garden (1998) · Dead Souls (1999) · Set in Darkness (2000) · The Falls (2001) · Resurrection Men (2002) · Fleshmarket Close (2003) · A Question of Blood (2004) · The Naming of the Dead (2006) · Exit Music (2007) · Doors Open (2008) · A Cool Head (2009, Quick Reads) · The Complaints (2009) Short story collectionsA Good Hanging and Other Stories (1992) · Beggars Banquet (2002) Non-fictionRebus's Scotland: A Personal Journey (2005) · Jackie Leven Said (2005, With Jackie Leven) Graphic novelsDark Entries (2009) Short storiesAn Afternoon (1984) · Voyeurism (1985) · Colony (1986) · Trip Trap (1992) · Marked For Death (1992) · Well Shot (1993) · Someone Got to Eddie (1994) · A Deep Hole (1994) · Adventures in Babysitting (1995) · Natural Selection (1996) · Auld Lang Syne (1997) · Principles of Accounts (1997) · Death is Not the End (1998) · The Hanged Man (2000) · Saint Nicked (2003) · Soft Spot (2005) · Not Just Another Saturday (2005) · Sinner: Justified (2006) Related articles
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