Lin Anderson's favourite Glasgow crime

Lin Anderson, author of the Glasgow-set Rhona MacLeod crime series and co-founder of the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival, on the best crime books, films and TV series set in her home city.

Lin Anderson, author of the Glasgow-set Rhona MacLeod crime series and co-founder of the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival, on the best crime books, films and TV series set in her home city.

With my father a Detective Inspector in the Greenock CID, just down the river from Glasgow, the city became my home, first as a student at Glasgow University and later by marriage to a Glaswegian. When I began the crime series featuring forensic expert Dr Rhona MacLeod, I, of course, set it in Glasgow. In fact her fictional laboratory has the same stunning view of Kelvingrove Park and Art Gallery as the principal's office at Glasgow University. Like many authors not from Glasgow, this great gallous city is my inspiration.

Laidlaw William McIlvanney

Laidlaw by William Mcillvanney

Tartan noir was born here via Kilmarnock's Willie Mcilvanney with his famous novel Laidlaw, which is acknowledged as the inspiration for both Ian Rankin and Val McDermid, among many other Scottish crime writers. DI Jack Laidlaw was a philosopher and DI who spoke the language of the people. Mcilvanney's famous phrase ‘there's been a murder', also became the byline for the longest running UK crime series Taggart, which was the biggest selling TV crime series ever.

Taggart TV series boxset


I remember watching an episode of this in Brittany, France. Beautifully dubbed in French, Mark McManus's famous gravelly Scottish voice was replaced by… its French equivalent. Taggart launched many stars and has yet to be surpassed. Created by Glenn Chandler, who wrote many of the episodes, it ran continuously from 1983 to 2010 on UK television, and can still be watched worldwide.

How a Gunman Says Goodbye Malcolm Mackay

How a Gunman Says Goodbye by Malcolm Mackay

I remember reading this book when it was being judged for the Bloody Scotland Crime Novel of the Year (which it won) and realising then what a discovery it was. Malcolm, from Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis and never having visited Glasgow at the time of writing the first of his trilogy has captured the city wonderfully. ‘This is no straight Glasgow gangland book, but a brave and involving psychological study of the cycle of life.' (Magnus Linklater)

Never Somewhere Else Alex Gray

Never Somewhere Else by Alex Gray

The first book in what was to become a hugely popular series, Alex is in fact a Glaswegian, but in her books, Glasgow shows another side. Not only ‘a mean city' but a city of music, literature and art.

Just Another Saturday BBC Play for Today 1975

Just Another Saturday BBC Play for Today 1975

Written by the groundbreaking Peter McDougall, directed by John Mackenzie and starring Billy Connelly, this drama questioned, with unremitting honesty, the orange walk culture of the time in Glasgow. It won the Prix Italia for best drama.

I have to finish on a funny note, because Glasgow humour is legendary whatever the circumstances its people find themselves in. And to see this in action it has to be the most famous excerpt from the BBC Scotland comedy series Burnistoun.

Burnistoun - voice recognition elevator in Scotland

Two Glasgow guys wanting to go to the eleventh floor of a building, find themselves in a voice recognition lift. Needless to say the system does not recognise a Scottish accent.

The Special Dead

Book cover for The Special Dead

The Special Dead is the thrilling tenth book in Lin Anderson's Rhona MacLeod series.

When Mark is invited back to Leila's flat and ordered to strip, he thinks he's about to have the experience of his life. Waking later he finds Leila gone from his side. Keen to leave, he opens the wrong door and finds he's entered a nightmare; behind the swaying Barbie dolls that hang from the ceiling is the body of the girl he just had sex with.

Rhona MacLeod's forensic investigation of the scene reveals the red plaited silk cord used to hang Leila to be a cingulum, a Wiccan artefact used in sex magick. Sketches of sexual partners hidden in the dolls provide a link to nine powerful men, but who are they? As the investigation continues, it looks increasingly likely that other witches will be targeted too.

Working the investigation is the newly demoted DS Michael McNab, who is keen to stay sober and redeem himself with Rhona, but an encounter with Leila's colleague and fellow Wiccan Freya Devine threatens his resolve. Soon McNab realizes Freya may hold the key to identifying the men linked to the dolls, but the Nine will do anything to keep their identities a secret.