BOOK FESTIVAL – Quintin Jardine

Though Quintin Jardine preferred his initial title choice of Drumming Up Worms, the “happy people in marketing” disagreed, so Jardine instead found inspiration in his music collection and chose the title of a Graham Parsons song for his latest Skinner novel. Thus Hour Of Darkness was born.

Jardine’s ambition for this book was to “push the envelope a bit”, choosing to write the narrative in first-person perspective, a device he explains is most normally chosen for “private eye” stories. Picking up plot threads from a previous book, Grevious Angel, it features a killing which stirs memories in Chief Constable Bob Skinner, which Jardine then chooses to relate in a memoir style.

Jardine then goes on to give an exclusive reading from his next work Matthew’s Tale, an historical thriller “kicked off by a family legend” about a relative who was pressganged into service during the Napoleonic Wars. A tale of “bloodthirsty revenge”, it represents a departure from Jardine’s gritty world of criminal realism.

A project Jardine has had on the go for a long time, the process of researching the historical facts is something relatively new for the author too. “There are people out there ready to take you apart,” he says, though then admits he did most of his research “on the hoof”, finding out the facts when he needed them, rather than spending months researching the historic setting upfront.

Returning to the world of Skinner, Jardine has few words of praise for the amalgamated Police Scotland (“hopefully somebody will have the sense to split it up again”) when asked about how his protagonist feels about it. “If I hate it,” he says, “he’s gonna hate it too.”

Referring to his books as “crime soap operas” when asked if he has ever considered including a dramatis personae at the front of his books, Jardine goes on to give his opinion on the e-book revolution and the Kindle. “What’s to hate?” he says. “For this generation, they’re perfect.”

When the question of how he will vote in the upcoming Scottish referendum is asked, Jardine is characteristically frank. “I’ve been a Yes voter since I was seventeen,” he says. “I didn’t realise I was going to get the chance.” Though a shade of pessimism remains. “I fear it will be decided by the wealthy,” he says. “And that’s not how it should be.”

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