Friday, June 6, 2014

The Cutting Room

Louise Welsh

Canongate U.S.

Reviewed by: Nancy

3 out of 5 stars


When Rilke, a dissolute and promiscuous auctioneer, comes across a collection of highly disturbing photographs during a house clearance he feels compelled to unearth more about the deceased owner who coveted them.

Driven to discover whether the images represent a real event or a fantasy, Rilke is drawn into a nether world of illicit urges and powerful obsessions.

A compulsive journey of discovery, decadence and deviousness follows.

My Review

Rilke is a gay auctioneer in his 40’s, who enjoys drinking, smoking, and casual sex. While clearing out the house of his latest client, an elderly woman, he comes across a collection of erotic books and photos that belonged to her deceased brother. She doesn’t want to see any of it and asks that he destroy everything in his private study. Instead of honoring her request, he wishes to learn more about the disturbing images of a woman that appears to have been murdered. During his search for the truth, he encounters drug dealers, porn shop owners, an amateur filmmaker, and a woman who poses nude for the camera.

This was a very stylish, moody, and atmospheric thriller. I enjoyed the glimpse at a dark and seedy side of Glasgow, the workings of an auction house, and the deeply flawed character of Rilke. What I didn’t enjoy so much was the weak mystery, the flat secondary characters, and the ending that fizzled out and left me rather disappointed.

Still, I would recommend this story to readers who enjoy literary crime novels, morally challenged characters, and don’t mind graphic and disturbing situations.