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The Cutting Room

3.63  ·  Rating Details ·  2,159 Ratings  ·  177 Reviews
A reissue of the outstanding contemporary Glasgow novel for which Welsh won the Saltire First Book of The Year Award and the Crime Writers' Association Creasey Dagger, was chosen as one of Britain's Best First Novelists by the Guardian, and was nominated for the Orange Prize for Fiction

Rilke is eccentric, witty, and frequently outrageous. An auctioneer by profession, he i
Paperback, 312 pages
Published October 1st 2011 by Canongate UK (first published 2002)
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Cross-posted at Outlaw Reviews and at Shelf Inflicted

Rilke is a gay auctioneer in his 40’s, who enjoys drinking, smoking, and casual sex. While clearing out the house of his latest client, an elderly woman, he comes across a collection of erotic books and photos that belonged to her deceased brother. She doesn’t want to see any of it and asks that he destroy everything in his private study. Instead of honoring her request, he wishes to learn more about the disturbing images of a woman that appe
Ian "Marvin" Graye
Exemplary...and Unconventional

This is Louise Welsh's first novel, and the second of hers that I've read (having read the first two in reverse order).

It's an exemplary crime novel, although the fact that it complies with many or most of the conventions of the crime genre is almost incidental to its design and appeal.

It's very capable literary fiction that happens to be set in the context of a criminal enterprise that is brought or almost brought undone by the narrator.

Authorial Gender

There are at
Mar 02, 2011 Nicola rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, lgbt, crime, library
I loved Louise Welsh’s historical novella, Tamburlaine Must Die, but I found this thriller set in the seedy world of Glaswegian antiques dealerships distinctly un-thrilling.

Right from the start, I wanted to get out my red pen and start correcting The Cutting Room. It’s not the typos that bother me – although they’re there – it’s the way that the novel’s mystery (about ‘snuff’ pornography) fails to mesh with its milieu and cast of characters. Welsh seems far more interested in writing about her h
Mar 06, 2016 Josie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ooh this was so very dark and twisty, I loved it!
This crime novel takes place in Glasgow Scotland and is a brilliant debut novel.
Not so much a "who dunnit" but close enough. The intricate web of mystery that the author weaves leaves you powering through chapters to uncover the truth.
So long as you don't mind the odd rather descriptive account of 2 men having hardcore anal sex, plus the odd typo throughout the book, then you'd be hard pressed not to love this book in all of its Glaswegian grime!
Dec 16, 2008 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really, really liked this one. A Gothic noir set in Glasgow amidst the underbelly of the rare books/antiquities trade? Sign me up. While the "mystery" here isn't the standard whodunit spectacular, to paraphrase a minor character: it's what you find along the way that's important. And in the case of this book, that bit of greeting-card New Agery is spot on. I can't remember the last time I read a crime novel in which I was so taken by the characters. Usually, the plot drives and everything else ...more
Ben Babcock
Obsessions are dangerous, yet they are also so human. They drive the most amazing and visionary projects—and fuel the darkest, most horrible passions. Obsessions play a fundamental role in The Cutting Room, both in the actions of the dead antagonist and in Rilke, the protagonist and auctioneer who stumbles across snuff photographs while processing an estate and begins to wonder if they are real.

I'll call this a mystery, because it is, but it's not the typical formula mystery of a professional or
Mar 07, 2012 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, united-kingdom
THE CUTTING ROOM is Louise Welsh's debut novel, published for the first time by Text Publishing in Australia in 2006.

Rilke's not exactly the archetypal hero accidental investigator. He's in his 40's; his personal hygiene is a bit offhand; he's an auctioneer for one of Glasgow's less than salubrious auction houses and he's gay with a taste for anonymous sexual encounters anywhere, anytime.

When summoned by Miss McKindless to her recently deceased brother's home, stuffed full with antiques, the lik
Jim Coughenour
I picked up this book in Scotland a couple years ago, before it was available in the US, and loved it! It's got everything I enjoy in a bleak, embittered European crime novel, starting with a seedy but sophisticated gay auctioneer named Rilke — who manages to get himself involved in all sorts of shady and dangerous shenanigans.

Welsh writes with brio (as well as demonstrating an alarming insight into the raw mechanics of rough trade). The prose is edgy, laced with humor and poison.

Also highly rec
Feb 25, 2013 Vivienne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Astonishing, intelligent and very dark. I had heard that Welsh's first novel had some quite dsturbing themes and scenes and this proved true.

The text is sprinkled with literary references. I found the narrator quite a complex character and also enjoyed Rose very much.

Agree with 'The Times' that is a stunning work though not perhaps to everyone's tastes. I read it in a single sitting.
Oct 29, 2007 Philippa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I think this is the worst book I have ever read.
May 05, 2009 Damon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
So my dad gave me this book while we were on vacation. He had raved about it beforehand, and insisted that I read it while we were there so he could see my reaction. I knew I was in for it, because generally our literary tastes don't overlap that much, but the stuff he recommends is almost always interesting, at least, and I'm usually game for trying anything...
First off, there's a couple unusual things in this book that may be somewhat offputting, but also make it kind of stand out. First would
Robert Beveridge
Jan 22, 2008 Robert Beveridge rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished, cle-pub-lib
Louise Welsh, The Cutting Room (Canongate, 2002)

This is one of those books where the reader who isn't an insider is going to enjoy it, but the person who knows is going to get far more out of it. Another in the seemingly endless list of British mystery authors turning out stunning debut novels is Louise Welsh, who introduces us to homosexual auctioneer Rilke (no first name, at least not that I caught), whose auction house is offered a job clearing out the estate of a dead man, with one caveat: t
Aug 19, 2010 Heidi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
There's something about rummaging through an elderly person's effects that attracts me. As does an explicit gay sex scene. If this doesn't grab you, The Cutting Room probably isn't your cup of tea.

Rilke, hired to auction the contents of a massive home in a once wealthy region Glasgow, comes across articles that require his discretion. A selection of impossible to find period pornographic novels, a ivory carving depicting sex and death, and photographs of torturous sexual acts. Fetish much? (So n
Oct 31, 2012 Wilson rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Louise Welsh displays a tremendous turn of phrase in the self-consciously literary detective novel The Cutting Room. A novel that is as sexually hardboiled as crime fiction gets, graphic images of sex and death abound, but, crucially, to go along with her ripe descriptive terminology she has created a novel that is character led, always amusing and gothic in its perverse, decadent approach to both language and content.

It is a novel steeped in personal moral corruption, but it is never a chore t
Pauline Ross
I found this a strange book, intriguing in parts, but very uneven. Written in the first person, it gives us a good insight into the mind of the protagonist, Rilke, but the other characters are more sparsely defined.

The premise is intriguing - Rilke, an auctioneer, is called in to clear the house of a recently deceased man. His sister insists that it must be done very quickly. In the locked attic, he finds a mass of erotica and some photographs suggestive of a long-ago murder, and decides to inv
Lukasz Pruski
Aug 28, 2012 Lukasz Pruski rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very good book. The uniformly excellent writing transcends the usual standards of the genre. Most of the characters are vividly and realistically portrayed. The main character, Rilke, is an antique auctioneer in Glasgow. Other characters, for example Mrs. McKindless, Rose (Rilke's boss), or Les (a drug dealer) come through like real people as well.

"Cutting Room" is, at once, much more and much less than a mystery novel/crime drama. More, because it is so much better written than 95% of
Jan 03, 2015 Rose rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I originally got the book on tape for this because someone told me it was about 6 hours of Robert Carlyle talking and I could listen to that guy read cooking recipes for six hours if that existed.

I actually ended up liking this book enough that I bought a paperback copy also.

The narration is wonderful. The main character Rilke has a very blunt, sometimes morbid, way of describing everything that works with the plot and setting.

Even though Rilke is the narrator and protagonist, I'm not sure if
Feb 06, 2017 Kirsty rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: february-2017
I very much enjoyed The Girl on the Stairs by Welsh, and had earmarked her debut novel, The Cutting Room, to read as part of my Reading Scotland Project for 2017. I must admit that I was a little disappointed with it. It has won a lot of prizes since its publication, but I didn't find it anywhere near as gripping as the aforementioned.

Whilst the story was relatively interesting, I did find several of the scenes and conversations rather dull. It was certainly bizarrely characterised too; it is a
Four stars, extremely happily given - excellent work, Louise Welsh. Masterful prose. A much needed LGBT-heavy addition to the usually pallor/bald-patch/ex-wife Rebus-alike characters. A very good mystery - not the one I was expecting to solve, and I didn't see the last two or three chapters coming at all. Good interplay between police and non-police. I really enjoyed this. More of you, please, Louise Welsh. What a great find.

(Warning to the wise - porn, everywhere. Well-written sex scene. But a
Sep 25, 2013 Lina rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up because it was based in Glasgow. That said, all of the Glaswegian dialect seemed stilted--I could have written it and I'm not Scottish. I liked the fact that the protagonist was a gay man, something that you don't see often in this genre. But the entire book was trying very hard and didn't succeed. The mystery's story line made no sense. Why did Rilke go around trying to solve the mystery before actually opening the rest of the boxes in the attic? Mainly because the author ...more
Nov 27, 2012 Alanna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, fiction
I listened to the audio recording of this read by Robert Carlyle and I can safely say that his reading was the most worthwhile thing about this book for me. The story itself had a lot of potential and the tension just kept being stretched and stretched until finally it broke just through fatigue and lack of resolution. I had lost interest in the plot long before the mystery was solved. It was very very dark and I was expecting some fantastic dark conclusion but was very disappointed. Still, it w ...more
Jun 10, 2015 M rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This started off okay, and then slid into the unforgivable territory of I Don't Care. I like 'unlikeable' characters but Rilke strayed into the land of "I couldn't care less if you die on the next page - in fact, I hope you do." It takes a lot for me to give up on a book, but over 100 pages in I just could not waste anymore time on this. Yuck.
Jul 04, 2011 Peter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is NOT for everyone -- it is dark, nearly pornographic, and utterly depraved. But it is superbly written, and the plot is as compelling as the characters that drag the reader to a chilling denouement.
Interesting material but not well written. The dialogue is forced and trite and the rhythm is off (particularly the history asides that come in the thick of action).
Jul 27, 2009 J rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The hero is scum, the town is dreary, the sex is weird.
Ignacio Parentella
Very well written. Kind of gross at some points. Kind of slow build-up. Excellent conclusion. I really liked the testimony at the end. It discusses an important issue in our society.
Dec 03, 2016 Don rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating mystery by Louise Welsh. The central character works for an antique dealer in Glasgow. The tone is dark an sinister. You won't want to put it down.
Feb 14, 2017 Linda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
So much potential, too much graphic pointless sex.
Story line excellent and we'll worth exploring, but drunken sex driven 'hero' let's the whole book down.
Alison Hardtmann
Nov 12, 2014 Alison Hardtmann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-library
I was fed up with my life. Fed up of working and never having anything. Tired of searching my pockets for the price of my next pint. I'd sat next to Death that afternoon. Why not take the risk? The only people who might get hurt were us, and weren't we used to that? I wanted something good for a change. And if the money was going begging, well, why shouldn't we have it? From what Anderson had said, it was dirty money anyway, ill-gotten gains that could do us some good. I should have known better ...more
This novel, about a 40-something gay auctioneer finding a collection of disturbing pornographic photographs during a house clearing, starts off strong. I kept picking it up, even though I didn't find the main character (or any of the other characters for that matter) particularly likeable. But since he is the narrator, I realized he painted himself in an unfavourable light and I gradually warmed to him. After all, he was a flawed man trying to do the right thing (albeit in a clumsy way): finding ...more
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Confused... *spoiler* 4 52 Jun 27, 2012 02:51PM  
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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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“People have died for love, they have lied and cheated and parted from those who loved them in turn. Love has slammed doors on fortunes, made bad man from heroes and heroes from libertines. Love has corrupted, cured, depraved and perverted. It is the remedy, the melody, the poison and the pain. The appetite, the antidote, the fever and the flavour. Love Kills. Love Cures. Love is a bloody menace. Oh, but it's fun while it lasts.” 4 likes
“John had said McKindless would be revealed through his library, but John was a bookseller; he formed his opinion of everyone through their books.” 3 likes
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