Read as part of CBR14 Bingo: holiday. I was gifted this book for Christmas a few years ago and used this Bingo as an excuse to finally read it.
Again, all love to book bingos for helping me find gems that are lingering on my very own shelves.
I used the holiday square as an excuse to get to this one. I had considered donating it a few times, seeing as how the reviews were good but not exactly rapturous. I have a lot of books that are reviewed good-but-not-exactly-rapturous, which is to say I have a lot of books that I know I will never read.
But I poured through this one and I’m glad I did. It meets the standard for a literary crime novel: far more interested in internal monologues, deep characterization, thorough dialogue, and a slow advancement of the plot towards a resolution that may come off as unsatisfying.
Yet this worked for me because, as I’ve said many times, I’m more interested in the whydunit than the whodunit or howdunit. Welsh’s examination of the Scottish underworld and working class seen through the eyes of an underemployed out gay man at a time where homosexuality was still publicly taboo really touched every nerve. The conclusion is an afterthought because it’s almost not the point. The point is exploitation: how many are exploited by the powerful and why. And why we attack each other in a working/lower class circular firing squad rather than those above us.
I don’t know that I’ll run out to try more Louise Welsh but I won’t say no in the future. Considering a Scottish crime fiction trinity: if you took Welsh’s characterization and detail, Alan Parks’ atmospheric descriptions, and William McIlvanney’s excellent Laidlaw character, you’d have the best writer in the world.