Excerpt from Set In Darkness by Ian Rankin, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Set In Darkness

An Inspector Rebus Mystery

by Ian Rankin

Set In Darkness
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Oct 2000, 432 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2001, 448 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Ellen Wylie hunched her shoulders. "There's a real ... atmosphere in here, isn't there?"

"My wife saw a ghost," Joe Dickie said. "Lots of people who worked here did. A woman, she was crying. Used to sit on the end of one of the beds."

"Maybe she was a patient who died here," Grant Hood offered.

Gilfillan turned towards them. "I've heard that story, too. She was the mother of one of the servants. Her son was working here the night the Act of Union was signed. Poor chap got himself murdered."

Linford called down that he thought he could see where the steps to the tower had been, but nobody was listening.

"Murdered?" Ellen Wylie said.

Gilfillan nodded. His torch threw weird shadows across the walls, illuminating the slow movements of cobwebs. Linford was trying to read some graffiti on the wall.

"There's a year written here . . . 1870, I think."

"You know Queensberry was the architect of the Act of Union?" Gilfillan was saying. He could see that he had an audience now, for the first time since the tour had begun in the brewery car park next door. "Back in 1707. This," he scratched a shoe over the bare floorboards, "is where Great Britain was invented. And the night of the signing, one of the young servants was working in the kitchen. The Duke of Queensberry was Secretary of State. It was his job to lead the negotiations. But he had a son, James Douglas, Earl of Drumlanrig. The story goes, James was off his head..."

"What happened?"

Gilfillan looked up through the open hatch. "All right up there?" he called.

"Fine. Anyone else want to take a look?"

They ignored him. Ellen Wylie repeated her question.

"He ran the servant through with a sword," Gilfillan said, "then roasted him in one of the kitchen fireplaces. James was sitting munching away when he was found."

"Dear God," Ellen Wylie said.

"You believe this?" Bobby Hogan slid his hands into his pockets.

Gilfillan shrugged. "It's a matter of record."

A blast of cold air seemed to rush at them from the roof space. Then a rubber-soled Wellington appeared on the ladder, and Derek Linford began his slow, dusty descent. At the bottom, he removed the pen from between his teeth.

"Interesting up there," he said. "You really should try it. Could be your first and last chance."

"Why's that then?" Bobby Hogan asked.

"I very much doubt we'll be letting tourists in here, Bobby," Linford said. "Imagine what that would do for security."

Hogan stepped forward so swiftly that Linford flinched. But all Hogan did was lift a cobweb from the young man's shoulder.

"Can't have you heading back to the Big House in less than showroom condition, can we, son?" Hogan said. Linford ignored him, probably feeling that he could well afford to ignore relics like Bobby Hogan, just as Hogan knew he had nothing to fear from Linford: he'd be heading for retirement long before the younger man gained any position of real power and prominence.

"I can't see it as the powerhouse of government," Ellen Wylie said, examining the water stains on the walls, the flaking plaster. "Wouldn't they have been better off knocking it down and starting again?"

"It's a listed building," Gilfillan censured her. Wylie just shrugged. Rebus knew that nevertheless she had accomplished her objective, by deflecting attention away from Linford and Hogan. Gilfillan was off again, delving into the history of the area: the series of wells which had been found beneath the brewery; the slaughterhouse which used to stand nearby. As they headed back down the stairs, Hogan held back, tapping his watch, then cupping a hand to his mouth. Rebus nodded: good idea. A drink afterwards. Jenny Ha's was a short stroll away, or there was the Holyrood Tavern on the way back to St Leonard's. As if mind-reading, Gilfillan began talking about the Younger's Brewery.

Set In Darkness by Ian Rankin. Copyright Ian Rankin 2000. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt can be reproduced without permission from the publisher, St Martin's Press.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson

"Quirky and appealing characters, an engaging story, and honest dialogue make this a great book!"
- BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: A Great Reckoning
    A Great Reckoning
    by Louise Penny
    Canadian author Louise Penny is back with her twelfth entry in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache ...
  • Book Jacket: Homegoing
    Homegoing
    by Yaa Gyasi
    It's all very well to challenge people to be the masters of their own destiny, but when you&#...
  • Book Jacket: When Breath Becomes Air
    When Breath Becomes Air
    by Paul Kalanithi
    When Breath Becomes Air is the autobiography of Paul Kalanithi, written in the time period between ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Victoria
    by Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit." - Amanda Foreman

    Read Member Reviews

Who Said...

When men are not regretting that life is so short, they are doing something to kill time.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay:
$400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.