Blasts from the Past: The Cutting Room by Louise Welsh (2002)

Cover imageThis is the latest in a series of occasional posts featuring books I read years ago about which I was wildly enthusiastic at the time, wanting to press a copy into as many hands as I could.

I first heard about The Cutting Room when I began what turned into a decade-long stint as the reviews editor for Waterstones Books Quarterly. It was one of those books that everyone seemed to talking about. I was a little out of touch having suffered a prolonged bout of ill-health but suspected it wouldn’t be for me, more in my crime fiction loving colleague’s neck of the woods. Not for the first time, nor the last, I was completely wrong: it’s a strikingly assured debut which immediately had me in its grip.

Bowery Auctions is close to bankruptcy when its auctioneer is offered an opportunity that will pull it back from the brink – clearing a house stuffed with precious objects. Rilke agrees to do the job despite the owner’s insistence that it must be completed within a week and that only he must deal with the attic which he finds full of rare pornographic books. He’s not a squeamish man – his own habits are somewhat promiscuous – but the discovery of photographs depicting sexual torture and what may be a murder committed many years ago appalls him. He begins an investigation that takes him into the murkiest areas of Glasgow in search of the truth. Welsh’s novel explores the depths of human depravity as it draws towards a shocking and sobering denouement.

I’ve said this so many times before about so many authors but Welsh never quite matched her first novel for me and is now launched on a dystopian series which does not appeal one jot. Never mind, I’m sure The Cutting Room would stand up to a reread.

What about you, any blasts from the past you’d like to share?

You can find more posts like this here.

8 thoughts on “Blasts from the Past: The Cutting Room by Louise Welsh (2002)”

  1. I agree, I was spellbound by this book when it came out and since reading sought out Welsh ‘s other books. I enjoyed The Bullet Trick but having looked at her others in bookshops I couldn’t believe it was the same author!

    1. She seems to have gone off on a very odd trajectory, doesn’t she. I enjoyed The Bullet Trick, too. The Cutting Room set such a high standard that maybe it was expecting to much for it to be matched again..

    1. Thanks, Resh. I used to reread a book a month but somehow lost the habit. writing these posts makes me think I should take it up again.

        1. I should follow your example. It’s all too easy to get carried away with all the shiny new books out there.

  2. Like you I think I’d be put off by the ‘crime drama’ genre, I think I’ve become very jaded by it thanks to overwhelming quantities on TV. That being said, I’m not entirely immune either (Miss Smilla springs to mind, which I may be re-reading quite soon) and this sounds like a good one. I very much enjoy these blogs, returning to old favourites.

    1. Thanks, Belinda. I enjoy writing them. Makes me thing about books that have endured in my memory and what I was dong at the time I read them. We have so much crime drama on TV, don’t we. I’d love screenwriters to turn their attention elsewhere. There’s plethora of other themes they could explore out there in the big wide world.

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