The Cutting Room
by Louise Welsh
Louise Welsh’s first novel has already been showered with more praise and awards than anyone could reasonably expect, raking in the prestigious British Dagger award along with a nomination for Best First Book from the newspaper The Guardian. And Welsh has certainly come up with a rather captivating read here, although her literary skills somewhat overshadow the actual plot at hand.
The Cutting Room is the story of Rilke, a gay auctioneer who comes across a small collection of old snuff photography on a business trip to a dead man’s house. Troubled by the pictures, Rilke becomes obsessed about finding out what went down when they were taken, and is being forced to confront his own sexuality in the process. As it goes.
Welsh’s writing is great — suggestive and detailed, strictly focusing on unfolding the finely structured plot, carefully peeling away layers of history and confusion as she moves along. The story itself, though, is somewhat unrealized, being both a less developed and intriguing affair than one has come to expect from modern psychologically oriented crime stories. The book’s latter half, especially, is somewhat disappointing, although Welsh’s arresting storytelling will keep you hanging in there. The plot belies Welsh’s great literary talent, but The Cutting Room is still a good page-turner and a significant debut novel from a strong new voice in crime.
Canongate Books: http://www.canongate.net