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THE REUNION Location photos
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THE RECKONING Location photos
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THE DEAD POOL Location photos
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I become very attached to places. So, for me, location is as vital to my books and to my writing as character, plot, structure and all the rest. Indeed, in the case of THE RECKONING, and my new novel, THE DEAD POOL, I'd decided on a location long before I had created any character or plot.

The walls of my study are lined with location photos past, present and future. Here are a few, with a bit of explanation about how and why they were taken.


THE REUNION has a number of Scottish locations: Edinburgh, the East Neuk of Fife and the Outer Hebrides. My home city of Edinburgh I know intimately, and the fishing villages of Fife I love. But it was my unexpected encounter with the Outer Hebrides that sparked off a certainty in me that I would use them as a location

(Picture 1)
This is Scarista beach on Harris. It is exquisitely beautiful and unspoilt. I took this photo some years back when I was working on a TV programme that took me to the Outer Hebrides. I have travelled widely during my journalistic career but this was somewhere I had never been before. During that wonderful trip I knew I would have to use Harris and Lewis as a location.

In THE REUNION, one of my main characters, Innes Haldane, has a memorable meeting on this very beach.

(Pictures 2, 3, 4)
The Callanish Stones on Lewis are quite remarkable. A bit like Stonehenge, the area is much smaller that you think. It's also very quiet, peaceful and atmospheric. In
THE REUNION, Danny and Abby meet there.


The small island of Fidra off Scotland's East Lothian coast is the powerful inspiration for THE RECKONING. Fidra is said to have been the model for Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. I used to have family holidays in the nearby town of North Berwick. It is a charming place and I am still a regular visitor. If I visit during the summer months I always take a boat trip out towards Fidra. It's now an RSPB nature reserve but I rather changed its use for the purposes of THE RECKONING.

(Pictures 5,6,7)
These are day and evening shots of Fidra taken from the lovely beach that runs along from North Berwick all the way to the golden sands of Yellowcraigs, a local nature reserve. From the beach at Yellowcraigs there is a very close view of Fidra. So close you feel you can touch her. In these photographs, you can just make out the Fidra lighthouse where some hair-raising action takes place in THE RECKONING.

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This is North Berwick as seen from the top of Berwick Law - 613 feet high - taken just before sunset. The whale's jaw bone that forms the arch is a striking feature. In THE RECKONING, my main character, Miller McAllister, climbs Berwick Law as child.


My latest novel is set around the Water of Leith, the river that runs through Edinburgh. In the past, the river was an important part of the city's economy, powering a large number of mills. Now, much of the river is used for recreation. There is a fine walkway running most of its length. I was brought up by the Water of Leith and the action in THE DEAD POOL is set within a stone's throw of where I used to play as a child.

(Picture 9)
This is an old railway viaduct and just under the bridge there is a river crossing point that I used to use in the summer (when the water is usually low). However, in THE DEAD POOL, one of my characters has to cross this in flash flood conditions!

(Picture 10)
This is a wooden bridge that crosses the river at a pool known as 'the Cauldron'. It looks deceptively calm in this photograph. But it's not always that way, especially following a long rainy spell. From the Cauldron, the river then runs down into a large weir. The bridge leads to a wooded area and towards steps leading up to the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art, high above.

(Picture 11)
The second photograph is looking from the bridge towards the Cauldron. Again, looking deceptively tranquil. 

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This is the weir that runs down from the Cauldron. Again, it looks a gentle trickle. But in times of heavy rainfall, it is treacherous and deafeningly loud. The bridge, the Cauldron. the wooded area and the weir, are key locations in the THE DEAD POOL.