The Cutting Room
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The Cutting Room

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3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  1,437 ratings  ·  124 reviews
When Rilke, a dissolute and promiscuous auctioneer, comes across a collection of highly disturbing photographs during a house clearance he feels compelled to unearth more about the deceased owner who coveted them.

Driven to discover whether the images represent a real event or a fantasy, Rilke is drawn into a nether world of illicit urges and powerful obsessions.

A compulsiv...more
Paperback, 294 pages
Published November 25th 2003 by Canongate U.S. (first published November 1st 1999)
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Community Reviews

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Nancy
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 appears to have been murdered. During his search for the t...more
Nicola
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...more
Lauren
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...more
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...more
Lukasz Pruski
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...more
Heidi
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...more
Robert Beveridge
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...more
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...more
Damon
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...more
Wilson
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...more
Fiona
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...more
Col
There are lots of shades to Glasgow like all cities - this novel includes what I think of as the dark heart of the city and the slightly more upmarket part of Glasgow - or what my mother might call the "all fur coat and no knickers" part of the city!

It tells the wonderfully black tale of Rilke - he's an "auctioneer" - which sounds dreadfully "Home Counties and BBC" - but in Glasgow "auctioneer" is simply a posh word for someone who clears crap from other people's houses. He's employed by the wo...more
Vivienne
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.
Peter
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.
J
The hero is scum, the town is dreary, the sex is weird.
Erin
Bobby Carlyle could literally read me anything and I would love it to death. The Book,all in all, is interesting-But seemed to drag on for a bit.
In the beginning you think you are going to be thrown into a world of suspense-and at times you are. I wasn't to sure if Rilke would go in search and solve the crime-and by god he took his time.

Rilke is the 'detective' of this Gothic noir thriller.He is a gay auctioneer, living in Scotland who stumbles upon some graphic pornography during a house clea...more
Natalie Bowers
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Karen
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...more
okyrhoe
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ape
I read this in a day, it was such a cracking, addictive read. I'm going to have to keep an eye open for her other books.

Set in Glasgow, this tale takes you into the underbelly of auction houses, antiques and the world of drugs and pornography. The narrator is an auctioner, Rilke, who is hired by an eldery woman to clear her recently deceased brother's town house (full of expensive antiques) in a third of the usual time, with a request that Rilke destroys everything in her brother's private study...more
Ash
I'm torn between giving it three or four stars. Were I to judge it on the "mystery" that has to be solved, I never would have considered four stars. This is not really what the book is about for me though. I've been pulled in by the character of Rilke and found it fascinating to learn about the world he moves in. Even the minor characters were able to hold my interest and felt more fleshed out than most minor (or even main) characters in a lot of books I've read in recent months.

It's been a few...more
Julie
This is a very dark and stylized novel and is not for the squeamish. When auctioneer Rilke is called to a deceased man's house to clear its contents, he finds disturbing photos that may depict a snuff scene. His curiosity gets the best of him and he delves into the seedy underworld of Glasgow to discover whether these photos are authentic. From drug dealers to pornographers, Rilke seeks answers to a mystery that runs far deeper than he realizes.

Welsh writes in a very distinct style and it took...more
Oddmonster
In much the same way as Joyce's Ulysses, I kept getting the feeling that I wasn't quite smart enough to appreciate this book. Like, what was wrong with me that I just didn't enjoy it? The classical allusions, the varied cast of characters, the sensational mystery -- and yet 90 pages from the end I had to give myself a pep talk to get it finished.

The protagonist is dull and unlikeable (deadly combination) and makes bad decisions while knowing they're bad decisions, and there are no repercussions,...more
Farhan Saya
A decent enough read but not something that I’d recommend to anyone. The author tries to shock you by putting everything he can find and turning on the blender in this novel. Pornography, Snuff movies, Homosexuality, Cross dressers, peep shows, etc, seems like the author was trying a little too much here. However, I have a thing for Scottish writers and their books are a nice change of pace to try occasionally.
Denise
I never quite warmed to the main characters and that's a problem because the reader needs to care about what happens to at least one of them. She has a good writing style which packs a punch and uses lots of old Scottish words and colloquialisms which I had to look up (easy on a kindle). However, I'm not that enamoured that I would immediately seek out the rest of her books.
Frank
I found this one to be rather fascinating with its gritty look at the underside of Glasgow's vice and corruption. The story is narrated by a gay appraiser, Rilke, for an auction house who finds some shocking photographs of an apparent female "snuff" victim in the property of a deceased owner of a large estate. Rilke is haunted by the photos and sets off to try to determine if they are real. Along the way, he encounters some unsavory facts about the former owner of the estate along with some othe...more
Jenny L
An impressive first novel. It has something of a Raymond Chandler feel about the writing style and the images it brings up in your mind. However, the subject matter is rather more 21st Century and gritty. Not sure I will be reading another from this author, but glad to have read this one.
Tim Corke
A dark and intriguing journey around the streets of Glasgow with Mr Rilke, a renowned auctioneer by day and a promiscuous socialite by night, as he attempts to do good by getting involved with some shady characters. Contracted to clear a large house ready for auction by an elderly lady in a quick time, Rilke comes across a collection of pornographic and disturbing photos that trouble him to the point of jeopardising the sale, which potentially could bring his company into better times. Who is th...more
Ruth
c2002: This was recommended by a book blogging site and I think that the recommendations from Goodreads are actually a lot safer. I certainly did not realise that this was classified as "Gay and Lesbian erotica". Anyway **sigh** I read the book and whilst the "hero" is quite a different sort, I did not feel that the character was particularly well developed. I did not get to understand why he decided to investigate the photographs and the dénouement at the end didn't particularly satisfy. Some b...more
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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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“John had said McKindless would be revealed through his library, but John was a bookseller; he formed his opinion of everyone through their books.” 1 likes
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