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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not the same old story.
This is a very inventive and gritty mystery with a very likable and unique narrator and supporting cast. Plus, the hero's business, auctioning off antiques, makes for an engrossing setup. While scouting the house of a wealthy elderly woman, our protaganist finds some very intriguing photos. Her request is that he destroy all that he finds in her deceased brother's private...
Published on March 23, 2006 by P. Tallent

versus
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars full of holes.
I thought this had a promising premise--a man from an auction house hired to sell the estate of a dead millionaire discovers "snuff" pictures--sounded interesting, albeit familiar to moviegoers who saw "8 mm". And the main character, the auctioneer, was unusual for this kind of novel: a middle-aged gay guy who prowls public parks.
But the book was stronger on...
Published on April 30, 2003


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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not the same old story., March 23, 2006
By 
This review is from: The Cutting Room (Paperback)
This is a very inventive and gritty mystery with a very likable and unique narrator and supporting cast. Plus, the hero's business, auctioning off antiques, makes for an engrossing setup. While scouting the house of a wealthy elderly woman, our protaganist finds some very intriguing photos. Her request is that he destroy all that he finds in her deceased brother's private room. He doesn't.

I read a lot of mysteries. And I truly appreciate one that has complex characters and tells a good story. One that you haven't read several times before.

This is a good read. It's offbeat and not for the squeamish. The details can be disturbing and there is sexual content some might find offensive.

I didn't.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Written & Engaging, October 25, 2005
This review is from: The Cutting Room (Paperback)
I am not a big fan of mystery novels, but I picked this gem up in a used bookstore based on the jacket raves. Once started, I could not put it down. Most of this has to do with the wonderful writing, much like a Joyce Carol Oates novel - I was mesmerized by the flow and choice of words, the character development and then finally the story. You can feel the dark, charged atmospheres in all scenes. The emotions described are raw and genuine. Parts of the book are even amusing. Usually I am bogged down by dialogue accents from other countries; in this case I was merely charmed. I was captivated by the main character Rilke, though to be sure - he and parts of the story line are seedy and gritty. If that's not your cup of tea, duck out now. I don't care that the plot is simple, I was drawn in to all of it as I read it over several rainy nights when I should have been sleeping. Each chapter seduced me to want more. While Rilke could have been heartless and cold, he came across as vulnerable and real - I prefer to see the personal side of some charcters and his isn't the only one we witness. I give four stars only because I know some people will judge the book none-too-quickly simply on the r-rated aspects of it - to each his own. I, like other reviewers here, cannot believe this account came from a woman. Whoever the author is, I would like them to write more. This would make a terrific little movie.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nicely-done debut., January 6, 2004
This review is from: The Cutting Room (Hardcover)
Louise Welsh, The Cutting Room (Canongate, 2002)
This is one of those books where the reader who isn't an insider is going to enjoy it, but the person who knows is going to get far more out of it. Another in the seemingly endless list of British mystery authors turning out stunning debut novels is Louise Welsh, who introduces us to homosexual auctioneer Rilke (no first name, at least not that I caught), whose auction house is offered a job clearing out the estate of a dead man, with one caveat: the person offering the job (the man's sister) wants the contents of the attic destroyed. He must agree not to sell them, not to keep the, but to burn them. Rilke discovers, in the attic, among other things, a series of pictures that look as if they are of the torture and murder of a woman almost half a century ago, and he sets out to track down the identity of the woman in the pictures, stirring up a hornets' nest on both sides of the law while doing so.
The mystery itself is a good thing, but you can read any superlatives I have to say about it in my reviews of the debut novels by Mark Billingham, China Mieville, Erin Hart, or a score of others I've penned over the past year. Welsh goes one further, adding slices of Rilke's sexual exploits into the mystery that are so realistic I wondered off and on throughout the novel whether "Louise Welsh" is actually a pseudonym for a gay man, and the picture on the back jacket is the wife of the guy Stephen King used for Richard Bachmann's back cover picture. The emotional tugging of loneliness while resisting the cruising spots just down the road, the nervous ecstasy of hurried sex in a public place, even the odd, paradoxical thrill of the roundup, all are handled with such stark realism, and the flavors herein are so germane to the cruising culture, that if Louise Welsh really is Louise Welsh (and not Louis), she possesses an amazing talent for assimilating character depth that portends a fantastic career ahead.
You want to read this one, but it might turn your stomach. You have been warned. *** ˝
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow!, May 5, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Cutting Room (Hardcover)
As a Glaswegian abroad, I was delighted to read this book, which captures the feel of my home city so convincingly. The writing style, description and dialogue seem to draw heavily on the noir tradition, in literature but also I suspect in movies - I wasn't surprised to read that this is being made into a film in the UK. I loved the central character, Rilke. He was a true original, and for me, an old fashioned hero, flawed but deeply moral. This has been billed as a thriller, but I think that's missing much of the point of the book. Yes, the plot will keep you reading, but it's the vivid atmosphere and superb characters that will stay with you long after you put this book down.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic look ..., December 25, 2005
By 
Sarra Borne (Grand Prairie, TX) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Cutting Room (Paperback)
Fantastic look into the dark side of life, from the point of view of Rilke an auctioneer, who is asked to clear out a dead man's house in a week. The dead guy has antiques and objects de art that the auction house is fairly slavering over. It will be the sale of the century. One tiny thing, the dead guy has amassed quite a collection of pornography, and not all of it entirely savory. His sister wants it destroyed, and it's up to Rilke to accede to his wishes or lose the collection. There were some out of character actions taken, presumably to advance the storyline. Overall this novel was a tight read. Interestingly enough this is a debut, I'm looking forward to more from this author. I was sucked in from the first couple of pages, and it made wonderful reading on the lengthy car trip to the inlaws.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Skilled Storyteller, Slightly Stained, January 1, 2007
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Cutting Room (Hardcover)
"Oh purity: Is it still possible? Is it possible still to be pure again?"

The question is asked by the poet Rainer Maria Rilke in one

of his letters, but it is also the theme of this book, whose

hero in the antiques auctioneer known only as Rilke. Rilke

is a deeply flawed piece of work: he is not above misappropriating

money or goods entrusted to him in the line of work. When

circumstances warrant, he's perfectly willing to convey

some drugs as a quid-pro-quo to a friend.

And yet Rilke is ultimately, a very engaging, self-reflecting

protagonist. In the course of clearing out the antiques

from a home, he stumbles on some pornography that shocks

him. (this in itself is no easy matter-his sex life consists

of three anonymous encounters-in a park, a tavern's toilet

and an rented room) The photos show what seems to be a

sexual murder and Rilke is touched by compassion for the girl

who appears to have been the victim.

Even though the pictures are fifty years old, he decides to

find out who this girl was and what happened to her.

Unsurprisingly, his curiousity leads him to a world even less

pure than his own and to the heart of a reality that is more

chilling than death. Set in Glasgow, the book crackles with

local color and language that lends a pleasant exoticism to

the story. The writer's familiarity with the details of transient

sexual encounters adds a certain gritty dailiness to our unlikely

hero and this perfectly engaging tale.

A skilled story-teller at work here in a place that's well past purity.

--Lynn Hoffman, author of THE NEW SHORT COURSE IN WINE and

the forthcoming novel bang BANG from Kunati Books.ISBN

9781601640005
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book!, May 13, 2003
By 
Roz Maguire (San Francisco, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Cutting Room (Hardcover)
I loved this book. From the start it gripped me and pulled me in. It was so original to have what has been described as a crime book, based around not a detective nor policeman, but an auctioneer - Rilke. The whole setting was fascinating; I could completely imagine the scene of the big old house that was the subject of the clearance, the furniture, the antiques, the mysterious and spooky attic containing someone's past life and history. It was in the attic that Rilke discovers the photographs upon which the whole story is based - a woman lies bound in ropes, tortured, bleeding, dead. But are the photographs genuine? Was this woman really murdered or is she the subject of a sick but clever photographer? Rilke's journey to unravel and resolve the authenticity of the photographs is fast paced and incredibly intriguing, I couldn't stop reading, desperate to find out what fascinating fact would be stumbled upon next.
As a main character, I really liked Rilke, I had a soft spot for him. I was compelled by his life, his world, the people he knew. Along the way we meet many other beguiling characters, Rose - Rilke's feisty business partner; Les the dealer and TV; Anne-Marie the stripper; Anderson the sober policeman who shares a secret history with Rilke; and the illegal `ring' of dealers. These are just a few, there are many more. But with each character Welsh manages to make us feel as if we personally know them, each is a distinct individual, even the ones we have only a fleeting encounter with - I really felt that I might bump into these people on the street!
There are also some great underlying themes to this book, the seedy underworld of prngrphy, the gay scene, religion, drugs, illegal immigrants. All are cleverly entwined and so much a part of the story that I didn't even regard them as separate themes. Although to many of us these worlds are perhaps not viewed as part of our everyday lives, this book realised them as actual and very much alive, if still not wholly accepted, in our society.
I would definitely recommend `The Cutting Room'. Not just for crime readers, this is for anyone looking for a modern, fast paced, atmospheric read, full of intrigue, insight and great characters.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than a crime novel - a stunning debut, June 29, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Cutting Room (Hardcover)
Crime novels seldom qualify as literature because as a genre, crime fiction is said to be manipulative and hence considered a lower written art form. Not so, with Louise Welsh's stunning debut, "The Cutting Room (CR)". Welsh is undoubtedly a fresh new talent but already she shows such craft, style and maturity in her writing it would be a shame to pigeonhole her as a crime novelist so early in her writing career. She has the stylistic versatility to cross over.
As several reviewers have noted on this site, it isn't the plot that makes CR such an impressive and riveting novel. If truth be told, plot is possibly the one weak element in Welsh's story. The premise is certainly fascinating. An aging gay auction house dealer turns investigator after stumbling across possible evidence - from among a rare collection of pornographic books - of a snuff murder being committed in an earlier time. He and his firm needs the money from the job to survive. Before he completes the job, his client dies and he and his boss are tempted to make off with the collection including the evidence but is stopped by an inquisitive and awakening conscience.
Rilke is an enthralling anti-hero figure. He is jaded, depraved and dissolute. He cruises bars and parks after work to satisfy his lust for young flesh but his conscience remains alive, buried beneath the stains and ravages of smoke, drugs and drink. Here, Welsh shows her natural talent with characterisation. Rilke's associates and the other lowlife who make up the human landscape are also utterly real and believable.
But that's not all. Welsh delves deep into the art auction business and emerges with an authentic and vividly assembled picture of the trade. She's great at scene setting and creating the right atmosphere for her story. What's possibly lacking is a sustained interest in plot development. Often it seems she might have a different bee in her bonnet and this is most evident in the way she engineers the denouement. Suddenly, in a blink of an eye, it's all over. It's as if you sneaked out to the loo and found you missed the ending when you came back.
"The Cutting Room" is nevertheless a formidable debut and one of the most impressive (crime) novels I have ever read. It would be unfairly limiting to consider Welsh simply a budding crime novelist. I think she has potential to produce literature of enduring quality. CR is just the beginning. I'll be looking out for her next. Highly recommended.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Crime and Punishment Glasgow Style, June 28, 2004
This review is from: The Cutting Room (Paperback)
Not my usual read, but thoroughly gripping... It's about a Glaswegian auctioneer who gets involved in trying to work out the provenance of some old necrophilic photos he finds in an old mansion. These photos unite unsavoury deeds from the past with present day ills and our protagonist deftly manages his investigation despite (and sometimes thanks to) his own set of vices and dubious acquaintances.
Welsh's style is reminiscent of fellow Scot, Iain Banks, but her prose is more poetic with more frequent allusions to literature, beginning chapters with dark little quotes from figures such as Poe and Rimbaud.
Once you get into this one, you'll burn through the pages. An intelligent, original novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good, December 24, 2010
By 
Daniel Holland (Arroyo Grande, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Cutting Room (Paperback)
This was a fun read. I didn't know it was going to be a crime thriller. But no matter, it is well written and intriguing. It has some tough gay sex stuff in it and also some deviant sex trade matter that isn't for the timid. But I really like the protagonist Rilke and the Scottish language and locale. Lot's of interesting characters and colloquialisms. I'd have given it 5 stars but it wrapped up a little too cleanly at the end for my taste.

I'm adding this after a few days. Jacking up the stars from 4 to 5. The thing that sticks with me most about this book now is just the feel and grittiness of the city. In this case, it's Glasgow, but really, you get the feel of some of this stuff in parts of big cities everywhere. And I can't say enough about Welsh's knowledge of the inner workings of auction houses and bars and personalities. I can't help but believe she's lived through some of this stuff. Regardless, she is an absolute wonder as an author.
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The Cutting Room
The Cutting Room by Louise Welsh (Hardcover - Mar. 2003)
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