Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson wants to wind down to Christmas with a week of sex and drugs in Amsterdam. The last thing he needs is a messy murder to solve.
Irvine Welsh is the author of ten previous novels and four books of shorter fiction. He currently lives in Chicago.
Another scabrous, lurid, blackly comic novel from America's favorite Scottish enfant terrible, this one does for present-day Edinburgh what James Ellroy does for 1950s Los Angeles. Welsh begins with a detective's investigation into a murder‘the death of a Ghanaian ambassador's son‘and turns it into a vivid exploration of the detective's own twisted psyche and seedy milieu. Detective Bruce Robertson finds himself preoccupied not with the murder but with his own genital eczema, sadistic sexual antics involving any number of girlfriends and prostitutes, his increasingly chronic appetite for coke, alcohol and greasy fast food and, finally, the parasite that has taken up residence in his intestines. Welsh effectively plays off Robertson's bilious narration with the coolly insistent voice of another entity‘the tapeworm, who seems to be the repository of Robertson's childhood memories and what is left of his superego‘as the detective spins out of control, wasting himself in increasingly risky games of erotic asphyxiation with one of his mistresses (ex-wife of another detective), machinations to undermine his colleagues, and misanthropic rage: "Criminals, spastics, niggers, strikers, thugs, I don't fucking well care, it all adds up to one thing: something to smash." Even for readers who have mastered Welsh's Scots dialect, such an eloquently nasty narrator can be exhausting. As in the past, Welsh himself sometimes seems rather compromised as a satirist by the glee he takes in his characters' repulsiveness. Yet if this hypnotic chronicle of moral and psychological ruin (funnier and far more accessible than Welsh's last full-length novel, Marabou Stork Nightmares) fails to charm a wide readership, it will not disappoint devotees. Editor, Gerald Howard; author tour. (Sept.)
Welsh firing on all cylinders... The best thing he has done since
Trainspotting * Sunday Times *
It is surely a remarkable cultural moment when a reviewer is offered cash in a bar for an advance copy of a literary novel... Filth is a masterpiece...squarely in the classic line of classic scottish writing * Independent *
Things are going well for Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson. Promotion is in the offing, he's got all the booze and drugs he needs, and his various plots aimed at friends and colleagues seem to be working out. Robertson, compulsive and repulsive by turns, has only two problems. One is a case of racially-motivated murder on his patch. The other is that there's a nasty tapeworm in his gut and it seems intent on having its say... A brutally sustained achievement * Evening Standard *
We're used to tough cops with non-PC attitudes, but Welsh trumps the lot with his evil-scheming, ball-scratching, foul-mouthed hero-with-haemorrhoids... Welsh's jet-black comedy at once entertains and appals... Gloriously grotesque * Esquire *
A snarling epic of a book...ugly, devastatingly funny, unremittingly nasty and pulls no punches... Don't dare miss it * Scotsman *