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The Cutting Room
by Robert Rosenberg
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From Publishers Weekly
Yet another talented Scottish author makes a debut with this dark and twisty thriller, boasting a highly unusual hero and a compelling background that shows extensive inside knowledge. The protagonist ("hero" is not quite the word) is Rilke, a promiscuously gay auction dealer working for a struggling Glasgow firm. On an appraisal call one day at the house of Roddy McKindless, a wealthy and recently deceased citizen, he comes across an extensive library of pornography, which includes pictures suggesting a "snuff"-the slaughter of a woman for sexual purposes. Rilke finds himself, to his surprise, engaged in trying to find out who the girl in the picture was, and whether she was really killed. Using his seamy contacts in the city-a pornographer, a girl who poses nude for eager "cameramen," a shady bookseller-he sets out on his peculiar odyssey, pausing from time to time for a quick and wordless sexual encounter, and becoming engaged along the way in a plot with the glamorous and world-weary Rose, who runs his auction house, to abscond with the proceeds of a highly profitable sale. Rilke is hardly a likable character, but as Welsh presents him, he is so witty, self-aware and oddly vulnerable to the occasional decent instinct that he becomes disarming. The Glasgow color is expertly applied; Welsh obviously knows her auction business, and also how to keep an intriguing story moving. She is not good at action, however, and the actual climax, in which the mystery of McKindless's death is solved, is oddly muted and unconvincing. This is one of those books, however, in which the journey is infinitely more beguiling than the destination.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
First-novelist Welsh offers a fresh voice and an arresting plot in this darkly atmospheric portrait of Glasgow's mean streets. Gay auctioneer Rilke agrees to pack up and sell off an enormous quantity of high-quality goods in an inordinately short amount of time, no questions asked. He is a bit blinded by the huge amount of cash and fails to inquire why there's such a rush, an oversight he will soon pay for. While clearing out the attic, he discovers a horrifying packet of snuff pornography. Despite his own proclivities for promiscuous, anonymous sex, he is haunted by the woman portrayed in the photographs and determines to discover whether the events depicted actually happened. His drug-dealing transvestite friend, Les, puts him into contact with an underground pornography ring, and soon Rilke learns more than he wants to about the seamy trade. Welsh offers an immensely appealing cast of characters, from the irreverent yet softhearted Rilke to his business partner, the indefatigable Rose. And Welsh's Glasgow is a desperado's paradise, filled with sodden pubs and seedy sex clubs. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
New York Times, March 30, 2003
'The Cutting Room is a remarkable first novel.'
San Francisco Chronicle, March 23, 2003
'Welsh manages to turn this errand into page-turning material even before the discovery of some disturbing photos.'
The London Times
"Astonishingly, this is a first novel, catapulting Welsh straight into the superstar league, while establishing Rilke as a classic original."
The Sunday Times
" A stunning work of fiction."
"A hugely commendable debut, assured and memorable. Crime fiction may have its prize-winner at last."
"This elegiac, elegant and atmospheric book is an original and compelling first novel."
"I was hooked from page one."
When Rilke, a dissolute and promiscuous auctioneer, comes upon a hidden collection of seemingly violent photographs, he feels compelled to unearth more about the deceased owner who coveted them. What follows is a compulsive journey of discovery, decadence, and deviousness that leads Rilke into a dark underworld of transvestite clubs, seedy bars, and porn shops. In this hidden city haunted by a host of vividly drawn characters, Rilke comes face to face with the dark desires and illicit urges that lurk behind even the most respectable facades.
About the Author
LOUISE WELSH has published many short stories and articles. For several years she worked as a dealer in second-hand, out-of-print and antiquarian books. This is her first novel. She lives in Glasgow, Scotland.
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