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Crime: A Novel Paperback – May 26, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Welsh's most coherent and satisfying novel in a decade showcases the Scottish author's inimitable combination of dark realism, satire and psychological insight. Having been placed on leave after suffering an emotional meltdown, Edinburgh detective Ray Lennox, introduced in Filth (1998), and Trudi, his fiancée, fly to Miami for a few days to relax and plan their wedding, but from the start the trip is a nightmare. Lennox gobbles antidepressants and begins drinking again in a desperate frenzy, but things really tilt out of control when he parties with some locals, who reacquaint him with an old obsession, cocaine. One of his new friends has a 10-year-old daughter, who's been targeted by an organized ring of pedophiles. Can Lennox save the girl and redeem himself? The main action alternates with chapters set in Scotland, written from a claustrophobic second-person point-of-view. Welsh offers no easy answers in this complicated, unsettling and at times beautiful novel. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Starred Review. Lolita in reverse. . . . Welsh applies his unique artistic gifts to a more conventional story line and succeeds admirably.”
“A triumph . . . a great, redemptive book . . . leaves you wanting more.”
- Euan Ferguson, The Guardian
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Yet here I am. Finished, and completely unsatisfied. Here is what went wrong.
The detective Ray Lennox, on vacation from Scotland, finds himself in the midst of the aforementioned kiddie rapists. Escaping with ten-year old Tianna, the perverts' latest target, he takes her to what he believes to be a safe space across the Everglades, on the Gulf Coast. I expect that the girl would be hesitant to open up at first. Sure, it takes time for the two to bond. But this trip across I-75 just goes on and on and on. At some point the reader wants to scream at Welsh to use a literary device to skip forward several days, for the bonding to take an exponential leap forward in the book, and get back to some action. But it does not happen. Instead, we read about the shopping sprees, the stops for gas, the music they listen to, while the danger just fades more and more into the background. CRIME is amazingly dull for a good 100 plus pages given the vipers supposedly circling the prey.
In addition, Lennox, needing rest after a horrifying case in Scotland involving a murdered girl, ruminates about the case throughout the book. I have no problem with continuing characters referring back to past events. But an author has to strike the right balance, drawing the past meaningfully into the present without losing sight of what the present book is about. In CRIME, Welsh failed to strike that balance, with the error going the direction of spending far too much time on the details of a crime gone by rather than the immediate one that actually was of sufficient interest to the reader to actually buy this book.
The characters are also rather two-dimensional. But this should have been an interesting crime novel. A lack of character development would have been acceptable if CRIME lived up to its name. In the absence of better action and storyline, however, the characters' deficiencies become a tad harder to take.
Well, they cannot all be good.