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Das Alphabet der Knochen
Louise Welsh
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Das Alphabet der Knochen

3.27  ·  Rating Details  ·  410 Ratings  ·  72 Reviews
Professor Murray Watson is rather a sad sack. His family, his career, his affair...not even drinking offers much joy. All his energies are now focused on his research into Archie Lunan, a minor poet who drowned 30 years ago off a remote stretch of Scottish coast. By redeeming Lunan's reputation, Watson hopes to redeem his own. But the more he learns about Lunan's sordid li ...more
432 pages
Published 2010 by Kunstmann
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Apr 15, 2010 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps I should warn readers of this review that Louise Welsh is one of my all time favourite authors. NAMING THE BONES was therefore greeted with some excited anticipation in these parts. One of the things that I really like about Welsh's books is the dark, introspective nature of her characters and the settings, as well as irresistible Gothic quirkiness.

NAMING THE BONES is the story of Dr Murray Watson; academic, guilty lover, conflicted brother, writer of a poet's biography. Murray's love a
Apr 25, 2014 Desinka rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very engaging read. Welsh is a great storyteller. I loved the melancholic and slightly depressing feel to it. And the academic writing a book about a dead poet was a topic I associated with a lot.
Sep 06, 2011 Georg rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english, crime, added-2011
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 21, 2013 Dolors rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
Finally!! I had been waiting for this book for ages and it never seemed to arrive. So when it did, I plunged straight into it and started reading even though I'm not usually very keen on thrillers and I had never read anything by Welsh before.
The result: I was positively surprised, the book has resulted to be worth waiting for!
Maybe the Gothic atmosphere, maybe the detailed characters, maybe the smug style... Everything helped to create a very real and evocative setting and as the novel took pac
Melanie Garrett
Oct 06, 2011 Melanie Garrett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
From the back cover, this novel seemed a bespoke fit to my own preoccupations. The story moves initially between Glasgow and Edinburgh, two cities I spent the better part of twenty years toing-and-froing between. Then, as things gain speed, it moves to a remote Scottish island. The main character is an academic, at Glasgow Uni, who is overly involved with his subject - the life and work of a dead poet. As a postgrad at Glasgow uni I spent several years walking in much the same footsteps as Murra ...more
Mystery novels and their readers have funny relationships, more than other genres such readers look for reflections of self in the protagonists; I doubt many self proclaimed "dog people" read books with talking cat "detectives," for instance. The sub-genre of academic mysteries draws those who tend to prefer a more leisurely pace with less violence and moderately eccentric, rather than full-blown crazy, characters.
In Naming the Bones, Louise Welsh follows the classic style with her protagonist M
Lynn Harnett
Apr 08, 2011 Lynn Harnett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-scotland
In this atmospheric and leisurely Scottish mystery, youngish Murray Watson, Glasgow doctor of English literature, has taken a sabbatical to research his literary inspiration, the dead poet Archie Lunan. Drowned sailing in a storm off a remote island in the 1970s, Lunan, 25, left only one slim volume of poems.

There are those – including Watson’s department head, Fergus Baine, who think one volume was quite enough. Baine was against the project from the beginning and after a discouraging slog thro
Nov 28, 2010 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is beautifully and carefully plotted. Its hero may be a little on the passive side (Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones he most certainly is not) but the journey he takes is believable enough. Everyone pretty much has a secret and a piece of the puzzle. Typically in this kind of book we get drip-fed the facts and no one seems willing to tell everything they know on one visit, be it Professor James, his daughter, the landlord of the pub Bobby Robb frequented, Meikle, Fergus, Mrs Dunn (Murray’s la ...more
Jan 30, 2013 Vivienne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The cover blurb and even the synopsis on the author's website suggests this is a fast-paced thriller which it isn't. This is a literary mystery in which the tension builds very slowly to a dramatic climax in its final chapters. Aside from his quest to discover more about Archie Lunan's life and death, Dr. Watson broods his way very effectively through a number of personal issues including an estrangement from his brother and the fall-out from an adulterous affair with a fellow professor, who is ...more
Oct 30, 2014 Helen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've enjoyed previous books by Louise Welsh; the Cutting Room, Magic Bullet, Girl on the Stairs but this one didn't quite come up to her usual standard.

You know the blurb and despite it sounding creepy, it really wasn't. The two story lines I was interested in (the affair and Dr Watson's brother) came to a sudden stop and the rest of it became far fetched, unbelievable and just a little bit silly.
Carey Combe
Goodness me a real slog to get through, although well written, not very nice or believable characters and sooooooo slow..... I dont think I will be reading another
Kate McDougall Sackler
Nov 17, 2012 Kate McDougall Sackler rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub

Ugh. The only mystery in this book is why it is classified as a mystery in the first place! Boooooooooring! Characters no one cares about.
Megan Hodges
May 02, 2014 Megan Hodges rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For a book where not a lot happens (until the denouement) I was glued to the page - atmosphere, the characters.
Aug 26, 2015 Marie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Je to zvláštní kniha - rozhodně ne typická detektivka. Atmosféra je ponurá a děj dost depresivní, nemůžu ani říct, že by mi hlavní hrdina byl nějak zvlášť sympatický - ale přesto mě autorka zaujala a přinutila číst dál a dál . Pátrání po životě a smrti básníka, otázka, zda se změní pohled na dílo, když bude čtenář znát více o životě autora. Téma smrti, sebevraždy, přátelství, lásky, úspěchu a odpovědnosti - všechno namícháno, ale konečnému výsledku jakoby něco scházelo...nebo něco přebývalo. Pro ...more
I bought this one with some other books. It was more or less a side-order, not a specific, intentional buy. I bought it because of the literal plot and because the protagonist is described as being fascinated with an poet. Fascination with a scientific subject is something which speaks to me, but nevertheless I didnt expected much. And for some reason when I came to choose what to read next, I started with this book. Maybe I was just curious?

In the end I was positivly surprised. Though the prot
I tried to like this book on many different occasions, in many different moods and in many different ways - I failed so I'll keep this reasonably brief!

Murray Watson is a disillusioned professor of English literature engaging in a saddening affair with a married woman and his feelings of desolation seep through every aspect of the book. He makes quite the pitiable figure and when I first started reading, I felt very sorry for him. Pity alone does not, however, make a great story.

The novel centre
Apr 18, 2012 Wwmrsweasleydo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my favourite Louise Welsh book -- and I loved The Cutting Room and The Bullet Trick so that's high praise.

Murray Watson (a Dr Watson without a Sherlock) is a beautifully described verbally literate and emotionally illiterate man. Like a Greek Tragic hero much of his undoing is in his essential nature. He is drawn to things which are bad for him, and surrounded by others with weaknesses and darknesses which compound the messiness of his life.

The mundane minutiae of academic life are des
May 14, 2012 Martina rated it really liked it
Dr. Murray Watson ist Literaturwissenschaftler an der Universität Glasgow und hat es sich zum Ziel gesetzt eine Biografie über Archie Lunan, einen eher unbekannten Dichter, zu veröffentlichen.

Lunan war sehr jung unter mysteriosen Umständen vor dreißig Jahren ums Leben gekommen und sein einziges veröffentlichtes Werk, ein Gedichtband mit dem Namen Moontide, sowie eine Kiste mit Notizen aus dem Nachlaß von Lunan sind alles was Murray von Lunan hat.

Trotzdem beginnt er in Lunans Leben zu stöbern, ma
Rachel Sargeant
Mar 10, 2015 Rachel Sargeant rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the fourth Louise Welsh novel I've read and it's more than up to her usual standard. This time she sends her protagonist on an obsessional quest to find out about a minor Scottish poet who died young in mysterious circumstances. Our hero, university lecturer Dr Murray Wilson, battles departmental politics, a disturbing fling with his boss's wife, a rift with his brother, a brush with the occult and a deadly sinkhole on a west coast island. Worth reading.
Sep 15, 2013 Jenaya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I ordered this book through the library somewhat randomly - at a poetry reading I heard quoted a writer named Lou Welch or Lou Welsh or something I couldn't quite make out. A search through my libraries catalog brought up Louise Welsh as the closest match. This isn't a book of poetry, but the plotline focuses on a poet, so I thought I might find the quote within. I did not.

The book, however, was a pleasant surprise. A lyrical, somewhat brooding novel that begins as a somewhat typical story of an
Jan 21, 2016 Carlton rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-mystery
This author writes well and I enjoy her style. I also enjoy the Scottish setting with the academic and art world background.
But the story is a bit too weird for my tastes, as the stories have been in her two other books that I have read. I keep reading her works as I feel that she will, one day, write a really enjoyable work. Not this one.
Sep 10, 2014 Julie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-challenge
A bit on the odd side. I liked it but wouldn't pull it off the shelf for a re-read. The story is a bit strange - an English Lit professor is looking for people who knew the subject of his current project - a poet from the 1970's who only ever published one slim book of his work and who died in ignominious circumstances. Lots of twists and turns, but a bit long winded in description of goings on.
This is a very well written book, in fact it is excellent. It deals with an academic in English literature at Glasgow University, Dr Murray Watson, who wants to write a book about the life of a dead poet, Archie Lunan, and who in the course of the story tries to find answers relating to Lunan's life and his somewhat mysterious death at sea off the island of Lismore. As much of the novel is set in Glasgow (West End) and Edinburgh there was a lot I could relate to, and indeed it brought forth echo ...more
Jane Fenn
Jul 26, 2011 Jane Fenn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first 'paper' book I've read in a long while, as I normally prefer audio books, but I've loved evertying Louise Welsh has done previously so decided to give this a go. The plot is very different to earlier work - a university lecturer goes on a voyage of discovery to bring the work of a young poet to public attention, so goes to invesigate his untimely and suspicious death, becoming dragged into a current web of deceit. This was nothing like the fast-paced crime thrillers I normally ...more
May 01, 2012 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, scotland
On the front of this book there is a blurb calling it a literary thriller. I really wouldn't put it into the thriller department so I will define the literary part. Considering the last few 'literary' mysteries I have read, what they have in common is that the deaths that are in question are not cleared up so much by detection as much as by being revealed through the stories course of events.

Doctor Murray Watson is somewhat of a schlub mostly because he sees himself that way, despite the way we
Apr 16, 2011 Christine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011-reads
Murray Watson lives a reasonably quiet life in university libraries as a literary researcher. He is trying to put together a biography about Archie Lunan, a favorite poet who committed suicide in the waters off the island of Lismore. Murray travels to Lismore to speak to Archie’s lover. The deeper he investigates Archie’s unusual life and death, the deeper he gets embroiled in the past and the surprising things that took place on this small remote island.

This book entwines literature, poetry, bl
Jul 27, 2011 Scotchneat rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
The title is a strange choice for this book. Yes, there are bones at the heart of the mystery, but really it's more about passion and poetry and dysfunction, so I suspect the choice came out of the mystery novel title-generator.

A lit prof who's obsessed with a long-dead local poet gets caught boinking the Dean's wife just before he heads off on sabbatical to write the definitive biography of the poet.

As he chases down what happened before the poet drowned, he discovers how inter-related the peo
Davida Chazan
Nov 03, 2012 Davida Chazan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Louise Welsh knows how to intrigue her readers and, like any good mystery writer, gives them enough twists and turns to keep them interested to the last page. But instead of using a professional (like investigator or detective) to get to the bottom of this story, she puts the research in the hands of a Professor of Literature on sabbatical, trying to write the story of his favourite poet's brief life for a book. Using this as the basis of the story, the people in his life also get tangled into t ...more
Alfred Smith
Jan 13, 2016 Alfred Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2016
A wonderfully literate novel, edgy, and atmospheric...I very much enjoyed following Dr. Watson's shambling search for truth (and academic recognition) as he delves into the short, tragic life of Scottish poet Archie Lunan, whose poetry remains but a footnote to English Literature.
Mixed feelings about this one--good writing, rather irritating characters (particularly Murray, the hero), and many rather tedious chapters where you were waiting for the action to begin, followed by an overly melodramatic ending where too much action happened. I'm not sure how believable Murray's actions/motivations were....though I did like the literary mystery, and the Scottish setting.
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After studying history at Glasgow University, Louise Welsh established a second-hand bookshop, where she worked for many years. Her first novel, The Cutting Room, won several awards, including the 2002 Crime Writers’ Association John Creasey Memorial Dagger, and was jointly awarded the 2002 Saltire Society Scottish First Book of the Year Award. Louise was granted a Robert Louis Stevenson Memorial ...more
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