Mortal Causes

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Mortal Causes
IanRankinMortalCauses.jpg
First edition
Author Ian Rankin
CountryScotland
LanguageEnglish
Series Inspector Rebus
Genre Detective fiction
Publisher Orion Books
Publication date
1994
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages336 pp
ISBN 1-85797-938-9
OCLC 60513002
Preceded by The Black Book  
Followed by Let It Bleed  

Mortal Causes is a 1994 novel by Ian Rankin. It is the sixth of the Inspector Rebus novels. It was the fourth episode in the Rebus television series starring John Hannah, airing in 2004.

Novel Narrative text, normally of a substantial length and in the form of prose describing a fictional and sequential story

A novel is a relatively long work of narrative fiction, normally written in prose form, and which is typically published as a book. The present English word for a long work of prose fiction derives from the Italian novella for "new", "news", or "short story of something new", itself from the Latin novella, a singular noun use of the neuter plural of novellus, diminutive of novus, meaning "new". Walter Scott made a distinction between the novel, in which "events are accommodated to the ordinary train of human events and the modern state of society" and the romance, which he defined as "a fictitious narrative in prose or verse; the interest of which turns upon marvellous and uncommon incidents". However, many such romances, including the historical romances of Scott, Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights and Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, are also frequently called novels, and Scott describes romance as a "kindred term". This sort of romance is in turn different from the genre fiction love romance or romance novel. Other European languages do not distinguish between romance and novel: "a novel is le roman, der Roman, il romanzo, en roman." Most European languages use the word "romance" for extended narratives.

Ian Rankin Scottish crime writer

Ian James Rankin, is a Scottish crime writer, best known for his Inspector Rebus novels.

<i>Inspector Rebus</i> Series of detective novels by Ian Rankin

The Inspector Rebus books are a series of detective novels by the Scottish author Ian Rankin. The novels, centred on Detective Inspector John Rebus, are mostly based in and around Edinburgh.

Contents

Plot summary

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.

Mary Kings Close Underground streets and tourist attraction

Mary King's Close is a historic close located under buildings on the Royal Mile, in the historic Old Town area of Edinburgh, Scotland. It took its name from one Mary King, a merchant burgess who resided on the Close in the 17th century. The close was partially demolished and buried due to the building of the Royal Exchange in the 18th century, and later closed to the public for many years. The area became shrouded in myths and urban legends; tales of hauntings and murders abounded.

Scottish national identity

Scottish national identity is a term referring to the sense of national identity, as embodied in the shared and characteristic culture, languages and traditions, of the Scottish people.

Sectarianism form of bigotry, discrimination, or hatred

Sectarianism is a form of prejudice, discrimination, or hatred arising from attaching relations of inferiority and superiority to differences between subdivisions within a group. Common examples are denominations of a religion, ethnic identity, class, or region for citizens of a state and factions of a political movement.

Connections to other Rankin books

Writing Mortal Causes

Rankin has stated that one of the minor characters is based on the Northern Irish loyalist paramilitary Billy Wright.

Billy "King Rat" Wright was a prominent Ulster loyalist leader during the ethno-nationalist conflict in Northern Ireland known as the Troubles. He joined the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) in 1975. After spending several years in prison and becoming a born again Christian, Wright resumed his UVF activities and became commander of its Mid-Ulster Brigade in the early 1990s, taking over from Robin "the Jackal" Jackson. According to the Royal Ulster Constabulary, Wright was involved in the sectarian killings of up to 20 Catholics, although he was never convicted for any. It has been alleged that Wright, like his predecessor, was an agent of the RUC Special Branch.

Political background

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.

The joke

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'.

A punch line concludes a joke; it is intended to make people laugh. It is the third and final part of the typical joke structure. It follows the introductory framing of the joke and the narrative which sets up for the punch line.

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.")

Fairy (brand) dishwashing liquid

Fairy is a brand of washing-up liquid produced by Procter & Gamble at their West Thurrock factory, in England, launched in 1960. Fairy liquid is traditionally green, prompting the well-known advertising jingle "Now hands that do dishes can feel as soft as your face with mild green Fairy Liquid".


Related Research Articles

Ulster Defence Association Paramilitary and terrorist group

The Ulster Defence Association is the largest Ulster loyalist paramilitary and vigilante group in Northern Ireland. It was formed in September 1971 and undertook an armed campaign of almost twenty four years as one of the participants of the Troubles. Its declared goal was to defend Ulster Protestant loyalist areas and to combat Irish republicanism, particularly the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA). In the 1970s, uniformed UDA members openly patrolled these areas armed with batons and held large marches and rallies. Within the UDA was a group tasked with launching paramilitary attacks; it used the cover name Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) so that the UDA would not be outlawed. The British government outlawed the "UFF" in November 1973, but the UDA itself was not proscribed as a terrorist group until August 1992.

Nationalist terrorism is a form of terrorism motivated by nationalism. Nationalist terrorists seek to form self-determination in some form, which may range from gaining greater autonomy to establishing a completely independent, sovereign state (separatism). Nationalist terrorists often oppose what they consider to be occupying, imperial, or otherwise illegitimate powers.

Detective Inspector John Rebus is the protagonist in the Inspector Rebus series of detective novels by the Scottish writer Ian Rankin, ten of which have so far been televised as Rebus. The novels are mostly set in and around Edinburgh. Rebus has been portrayed by John Hannah and Ken Stott for Television, with Ron Donachie playing the character for the BBC Radio dramatisations.

Ulster loyalism Pro-UK political alignment in Northern Ireland

Ulster loyalism is a political ideology found primarily among Ulster Protestants in Northern Ireland who maintain a strong desire to remain part of the United Kingdom. Many Ulster Protestants are descendants of settlers from Great Britain in the 17th and 18th centuries. Like most unionists, loyalists are attached to the British monarchy, support the continued existence of Northern Ireland, and oppose a united Ireland. Ulster loyalism has been described as a kind of ethnic nationalism and "a variation of British nationalism". It is strongly associated with paramilitarism.

<i>Rebus</i> (TV series) television series

Rebus is a British television detective drama series based on the Inspector Rebus novels by the Scottish author Ian Rankin. The series was produced by STV Productions for the ITV network, and four series were broadcast between 26 April 2000 and 7 December 2007. The first series starred John Hannah as DI John Rebus; and was co-produced by Hannah's own production company, Clerkenwell Films. After Hannah quit the series, the role of Rebus was re-cast, with Ken Stott appearing as Rebus in three subsequent series, which were produced in-house by STV.

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