The Cutting Room by Louise Welsh

Rilke is an auctioneer in Glasgow who is asked to fulfil a quick house clearance. The customer, the inheritor and sister to the deceased, is particular about having everything in one room, the attic room, burned rather than put up for auction. Why?

Alongside an impressive collection of erotic literature are some unnerving photographs; are these the dark secrets a loving sister would like to destroy? Are the photographs staged or is there something more disturbing unfolding?

Very quickly Rilke becomes obsessed with trying to uncover the secrets of the photographs and their owner.

Desire then takes centre stage: Rilke’s promiscuity pales into innocence in the face of the darker predilections revealed through the photographs.

You can see what a fast-paced ride the reader undergoes and the machinations of the plot are impressively handled. I raced through the pages hoping to find answers in Rilke’s investigations. And yet, despite all my admiration for the craft of the story and macabre nature of the subject matter and protagonist, I was left hoping for something more. I wanted to go a little deeper, a little further into the darker world the novel begins to uncover. I didn’t want to leave the novel feeling safe. Perhaps, however, that would have made quite a different kind of book and in the end this reveals my literary preferences rather than any faults in the book itself. If you enjoy mystery and crime, if you love a detective with more than one Achilles heel, then The Cutting Room will definitely be a book for you.

Next week I’m reading A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton.


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