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Author Ian Rankin

Jack Rankin

The photo shows me on the sofa in my office, the office itself being one of the bedrooms in my house in Edinburgh. The sofa faces my hi-fi system, and I usually listen to music (anything from Arvo Pärt to Mogwai) while I'm reading. There are drawers in the coffee-table in front of the sofa, and these contain some of my CD collection.

I like this room a lot: Large windows on two sides give plenty of light. I have two desks, one for paperwork and one with a computer. I sit at the latter when I'm writing my novels (or pieces like this for newspapers). On the walls around me are some favourite paintings; the one above the sofa is by Scottish artist John Bellany.

And what am I reading? Well, in the photo (taken by my 19-year-old son Jack, by the way), I'm holding a precious first edition of Muriel Spark's Edinburgh-based novel The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. It is an extraordinary book, short but precision-tooled, terrifying yet laugh-out-loud funny, and very, very clever. Spark actually signed this copy for me at the Edinburgh Book Festival one year.

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I've probably read the book nine or 10 times, yet come back to it every year or two, in order to relish it all over again, finding details I'd missed on previous readings, and once again asking myself the question: Is Jean Brodie heroine or villain? I doubt I'll ever come to a conclusion, but it's fun trying.

Ian Rankin is the bestselling author of many crime novels. His latest, The Impossible Dead, will be published this fall.

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