NICOLA Sturgeon’s surprise resignation as First Minister has been a fascinating melodrama, upstaged by the bewildering fashion parade of those that hope to replace her.

One specific reaction to the First ­Minister’s departure has left me flabbergasted. In an unscientific prowl around the playhouse of social media, I have been taken aback by the number of people who with varying degrees of venom seem to dislike Nicola Sturgeon’s love of books.

Some simply detested her and so books were merely a drop in the ocean of irrational disgruntlement they harboured, whilst ­others saw it as a distraction from her core purpose in life, which is to batter Rishi ­Sunak around the head with a hardback of Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s Sunset Song.

When the Elvis of Ayrshire ­unexpectedly left the building, one commentator screeched in full cap locks at the departing politician. It was not entirely clear whether the anger was provoked by Nicola’s ­departure, or by her taste in literature, ­although I suspect it was warmed by burning lava that flows from the volcano of the Gender Reassignment legislation.

I occupy a diametrically different ­position. I find it reassuring that our ­departing First Minister reads books and has such an easy rapport with ­writers, publishers and independent book-shop owners. That is the kind of schtick you normally associate with Iceland or ­Isabel Allende’s dinner parties, it is not a ­familiar trait of Scottish public life. But it is one to be welcomed.

It was a measure of Sturgeon’s sense of duty that, having left the most senior office in the land, she turned up the following evening at a pre-arranged book event in Paisley, to share the stage with author Chitra Ramaswamy. Many would have cracked open the prosecco, slipped into the baffies and hidden away from the cursed commentariat that has pursued her every move.

We are fortunate to have had a First Minster that understood the ­phenomenal importance of the literary economy in Scotland.

Yesterday I returned home from ­Granite Noir, Aberdeen’s Crime and ­Literature Festival one of a network of festivals and events that have stretched the breadth of Scotland, from Portobello to Cove and Kilcreggan.

Not only have these events enriched Scotland’s cultural landscape, but they have also provided an opportunity for ­locals and volunteers to contribute to an enterprise that brings major authors to communities that might otherwise be starved of cultural events.

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I’m not sure if an up-to-date audit exists, but I would like to see the value that these festivals generate. A report back in 2019 published to coincide with World Book Day estimated that book festivals generate £11.3 million for Scotland’s creative economy.

But even if value is measured only by “softer” outputs such as connecting passionate readers with great writers and their books, then that’s enough for me. Measuring value is ­important.

We can all imagine the impact of the ­Edinburgh Book Festival, an internationally renowned event that has the magnetism and reputation to bring world-renowned authors to Scotland. But what of those micro-communities that have grown up around smaller book festivals? What ­economic and cultural impacts have come to Wigtown since it was declared Scotland’s Book Town?

The growth and spread of Scotland’s book festival communities is palpable.

When Nicola Sturgeon was growing up in Ayrshire, there were no book ­festivals of note, now there are at least three – ­Imprint, Tidelines and the Boswell ­Festival, spanning Kilmarnock, Irvine and Cumnock respectively.

The Ullapool festival prides itself on high-quality speakers and takes them to a remote town that makes creative use of all available venues. Whisper it ­quietly in these emotional times, they even host events in the upstairs of the Ferry Terminal.

Whilst you calm down, let me tell you more about Aberdeen’s Granite Noir and why it gives further insight into Nicola Sturgeon’s time as First Minster.

Granite Noir is inspired by the ­incredible popularity of crime fiction in all its forms, and the phenomenal ­contribution that Scottish writers have made to the genre.

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Among this year’s major guests were Val McDermid (above) who has sold over 17m books internationally and has been ­translated into more than 40 languages, and another session profiles a wide range of stylists within Scottish crime ­fiction including Chris Brookmyre, Denzil ­Meyrick and Doug Johnstone.

Tickets to see Val McDermid were ­selling like molten Madeira all week, in part because the chair of the session was none other than the Oprah Winfrey of Holyrood – Nicola Sturgeon.

Having stepped back from the highest office, Nicola had not only surprised the nation but deprived her gurning critics of a chance to rant on about the perceived priorities of public service.

SO, for old time’s sake, please take your pick: “The schools are on strike and she’s swanning about in Aberdeen talking about crime books”, or “My mum has been waiting for a hip replacement and she’s hinging aboot wi her pals in posh hotels.” Or for those of a fundamentalist leaning: “Aberdeen? Why is she no in Gretna giving the English the wanker sign?”

My own journey to Aberdeen was to chair a session on Scotland’s most ­infamous domestic serial killer – ­Bible John. In his new book, We All Go Into The Dark author Francisco Garcia ­examines how and why Bible John has ­become such a powerful and widely ­mythologised ­figure in Scotland. Garcia’s book shows how the killer has morphed across ­generations and remains such a darkly compelling character.

The promotional blurb describes We All Go Into The Dark as “captivating, eloquent and deeply original”, a book that is “an absolute must-read for true crime fans across the board”.

It is published at a time of renewed fascination in the Bible John story which has recently been the subject of podcast series by journalist Audrey Gillan, who focuses on the female victims rather than the domineering killer and his ­evasive identity.

One of the challenging conclusions of the session is that we may have been witnessing Scotland at a moment of ­profound social change.

The old ­tenements were retreating, now ­motorways springing up, dancehalls disappearing as discos and nightclubs displaced them, the war and national service were fading and one of the enduring certainties of Glasgow, shipbuilding on the Clyde was in crisis.

Attitudes were changing just as surely. Bible John had met his victims, not only at the Barrowland Ballroom, but on nights set aside for divorcees or older couples.

It was a factor that may have ­prevented police from progressing the case, as witnesses were reluctant to come forward. But so too might have been the police and ­media’s determination to put a face and a name to a killer resulting in the moniker of Bible John.

As Francisco Garcia unravelled the ­story of Bible John, it was clear that book festivals have another role – to open our minds to other interpretations of Scottish society.

Garcia looked back with guarded scepticism on theories that were either pure invention or at best, creative licence, and the session came to the ­radical conclusion that Bible John may never have existed and that a more frightening scenario lies buried in our history, ­namely that three different men killed women after meeting them at a dancehall.

It’s all too much in a single week – a ­political colossus has left, and a ­murderous myth has been laid to rest.

That was my week – what has Kate Forbes been up to while I was away?