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SCOTNOTES Study Guides

Ian Rankin’s

Christopher Nicol

Published in: Paperback.
By: Association for Scottish Literary Studies, 2008
Price: £5.95
ISBN 978-0-948877-90-2

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Ian Rankin is perhaps the UK’s foremost crime writer, best-known for his extensive series of novels set in Edinburgh and featuring Detective Inspector John Rebus.

Christopher Nicol’s Scotnote examines one of Rankin’s most popular works, the award-winning Black & Blue. The complex, multilayered narrative is untangled, the characters studied and the novel’s social and psychological undercurrents explored. This guide is suitable for senior school pupils and students at all levels.


  • Ian Rankin and his work
  • Outline
  • Black & Blue: the social landscape
  • John Rebus in Black & Blue
    • Rebus’s empathy with victims and underdogs
    • Rebus’s lack of respect for establishment figures
    • Rebus and personal engagement
  • Characters
    • Detective Inspector Jack Morton
    • Detective Sergeant Ludovic Lumsden
    • Chief Inspector Charles Ancram
    • Bible John
    • Detective Sergeant Brian Holmes
  • Themes
    • The power of past sins
    • Fathers and children
    • The effects of the oil industry
  • Structure and style
  • Bibliography


Last updated 21 October 2010.