A CRIME comedy novel set to stoke the sporting rivalry between Galashiels and Melrose has been published just in time for Melrose Sevens.

West Linton author Mark Farrer, who already has six comedy novels under his belt, sets all his bestselling books in his adopted homeland of the Scottish Borders.

His latest novel The Good, The Bad and The Rugby begins with a trial at Selkirk Sheriff Court and climaxes during the Greenyards tournament.

The novel’s foreword adds fuel to the fire of the historic rivalry, stating ‘If Melrose was a person, it would be Angela Lansbury in a two-piece heather mixture and pearls’.

‘If Galashiels was a person, it would be helping police with their enquiries,’ it adds.

The series revolves around Cullen, a former police detective who is invariably drawn into a sequence of crazy schemes.

This instalment features an unusual crime wave in Melrose, the unearthing of a dead body and the unthinkable theft of the Ladies Cup trophy.

Mark, who is originally from Liverpool, said: “I realise my books aren’t for everyone – the easily offended should look away now – but they’re not Irvine Welsh either.

“If you’re a fan of the books of Christopher Brookmyre or Ben Elton – or you like Frankie Boyle or Jeremy Clarkson - I think you’d find them right up your street.”

Mark studied computer science at Hull University before embarking on a successful career in IT around London and the South-East.

He moved to the Borders in 2001 and for the next 14 years continued working in IT.

Three years ago he decided to escape the rat race and concentrate on writing.

His first novel, Where Seagulls Dare, was published in 2016 and since then Mark has continued to write and publish both a novel and a novella every year.

The tranquil Borders region seems a world away from the Clint Eastwood westerns and war films that have inspired the titles of the Cullen series.

However, the latest book was inspired by doing jury service at a trial regarding a pub fight after the annual Galashiels/Melrose rugby fixture on Boxing Day.

Despite being happy to poke fun at the local rivalries, Mark is clearly a fan of the Borders. He said: “I love the rolling Scottish Borders countryside, the forests and hills, river Tweed and small market towns.”

On the one day where the world comes out in force to Melrose, will Cullen beat the final whistle to ensure justice is served?

The Good, The Bad and The Rugby is on sale now.

The Kindle edition is available for £2.99 or, for a few dollars more, the paperback copy is priced at £9.99.