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The Bullet Trick

3.44  ·  Rating Details ·  610 Ratings  ·  82 Reviews
Sometimes an author can make a considerable mark with their first book (as Louise Welsh did with The Cutting Room and almost immediately lose momentum with their next outing. The Bullet Trick is proof that Welsh is no one-trick pony, and this highly entertaining (if, at times, baffling) novel will be gratefully received by those who like their fiction eccentric and unabash ...more
Published 2006 by Canongate
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Richard Kunzmann
The Bullet Trick is Louise Welsh’s second novel, which deftly follows up on her first The Cutting Room. Like her first book, this is a story that shoots for the gothic and carnivalesque, but it doesn’t quite hit the mark.

William Wilson is a magician on the last leg of a faltering career when an old friend asks him to do a second-rate show in a London strip club. What happens during the show drags Wilson into the violent aftermath of a dusty missing person’s case.

The story is set in three cities
Peter Weissman
Feb 24, 2016 Peter Weissman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A noirish book whose conjurer/scam artist protagonist flashes forward and back in time between demimonde London, Glasgow, and Berlin. I liked it enough to order Welsh's two other (not part of a series) books: The Cutting Room and Tamburlaine Must Die.
Dec 14, 2009 kingshearte rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2009, fiction
When down-at-heel conjurer William Wilson gets booked for a string of cabaret gigs in Berlin, he is hoping his luck is on the turn. There were certain spectators from his last show he'd rather forget.

Amongst the showgirls and tricksters of Berlin's scandalous underground William can abandon his heart, his head and, more importantly, his past. But secrets have a habit of catching up with him, and the line between the act and reality starts to blur.

Bringing the seedy glamour of the burlesque sce
Good book. I have to accept that despite turning my back on "literature" after my teens, I do need "real" books. I'm not actually at home with mainstream books and probably never will be. I was looking for what I want and need in genre fiction, but a good book always has elements of mystery in it, a real book deals with sex in some way at some point. Welsh does so very obliquely in this novel (I'm not sure how one reviewer characterised the protagonist, and I'm hesitant to judge on his reaction ...more
Mar 14, 2010 Carole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book from my library, the picture first caught my eye and then the title, and when I read the blurb and noticed that some of it was set in Berlin ...... I was travelling to Berlin soon ....... I just had to borrow it. And I'm really pleased that I did as I absolutely loved it.

The story starts in present day Glasgow and travels back and forth in time to Berlin and London narrated by William Wilson, Mentalist and Illusionist, who was

the warm-up act for a whole trough of comedians
Kirsty Darbyshire

I'd put this somewhere on the up side of average. A bit slow in the beginning and not an author I'm going to race around looking for, though perhaps one I will read again. So it quite surprised me when I found her mentioned online as one of the big new names taking crime writing into the literary bit of mainstream fiction. I liked the plot and some of the characters (bit players better drawn than the major parts) but didn't think the writing was anything to get excited about.

Jul 27, 2009 J rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Disappointing because I loved The Cutting Room so much. The main character just didn’t have what the other guy had.
Alison Hardtmann
Nov 22, 2016 Alison Hardtmann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-but-unowned
William dropped out of university years ago. He was convinced that magic was due for a comeback and as a conjurer, he was headed for the big time. It wasn't and neither was he. A decade later he's drinking too much and taking the small jobs his agent sends his way. One of these leads to a side job to steal an envelope after a job at a strip club. He still had the envelope when the people who hired him are murdered and he flees to Berlin, to a steady gig at an Erotische Cabaret.

Welsh wrote an ex
Linda Boa
Feb 27, 2017 Linda Boa rated it really liked it
Although I read this book 11 years ago, I still remember enjoying the unexpected twists and turns of the pot, and the decadence of Berlin. I've always been a huge fan of Louise Welsh, who lived in my friend's flat when she was at Glasgow Uni. I particularly adore The Cutting Room, as that reminds me of how wonderful the West End was in the late '80s, with it's mixture of (sometimes very distinctive) characters, great bars and unusual shops. Now it's full of wankers, and the unique shops have gon ...more
E.R. Yatscoff
A slow moving story and just interesting enough to keep me reading, albeit in small periods. Wilson and other characters weren't very interesting but at least the Berlin part was better. When Wilson returns to Glasgow he becomes a different man and also, the police are strange people. We are not 'in' on a lot of stuff so it is a bit of a surprise when things happen.
Feb 10, 2017 Kerri rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The blurb makes it sound more lavish than it is so I was a little disappointed but it's easy to read and has a good ending.
Jul 02, 2008 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, united-kingdom
Stage magician William Wilson lives a pretty hand to mouth type of existence as an opening act. In these way past vaudeville days, a stage magician is not really all that in demand. He also doesn't get many gigs at retirement parties for policemen, but Detective Inspector James Montgomery has the nickname of “The Magician” and somebody thought Wilson's appearance would be funny. The stage show certainly goes okay, but afterwards the reason why he's the particular magician asked to do the gig is ...more
Val Penny
Louise Welsh was born in London, England on 1 Februaury 1965. She is now based in Glasgow, Scotland where she studied history at Glasgow University. She then established a second-hand bookshop, where she traded in books for many years.

Her first novel was The Cutting Room which won several awards, including the 2002 John Creasey Award, by the Crime Writers’ Association. Also, it was jointly awarded the 2002 First Book of the Year Award by the Saltire Society Scottish. Ms Welsh was granted a Rober
Nov 18, 2009 Maddy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2006-reads
PROTAGONIST: William Wilson, illusionist/conjurer
SETTING: London, Berlin, Glasgow
SERIES: Standalone

The one thing that you can count on when you pick up a noir mystery book is that most of what happens in the book will be washed in darkness and fringed in black. Certainly, THE BULLET TRICK fits in that category. Although you might think that a book featuring a magician and conjurer would be somewhat light (you know, the rabbits in the hats and all that), BULLET most definitely doesn't
The Bullet Trick by Louise Welsh - ok

Normally I love Louise Welsh's work, but somehow this one didn't hit the spot. Too much preamble and, to be honest, I really didn't care for the protagonist and therefore didn't care about his story. I really had to push myself through it. I kept thinking that 'just another chapter' would awaken my 'need to know', but somehow it didn't.

William Wilson is a conjuror and this is his story. It starts as he returns to Glasgow, but quickly jumps back to the start o
Mar 07, 2012 Wwmrsweasleydo rated it really liked it
This is very atmospheric and very cleverly written. The central character is not entirely sympathetic, but he is interesting, engaging and witty.

The story is told in three timelines in three different places, all of which converge by the end. Although not a straightforward chronology, it never got confusing. Picking up the emotions of the setting was immediate and I never forgot where I was in any of the plots.

Two conclusions needed to be reached and the reader was constantly aware that they w
Nick Davies
Jan 13, 2016 Nick Davies rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
I quite enjoyed this tale of a magician involved in a variety of crimes and capers in London, Glasgow and Berlin - it was beautifully described and the locations and situations were exotic and interesting. It's tough to classify the book - part black humour, part adventure thriller, part historical mystery mixed with conspiracy theory - but nevertheless it was pretty readable.

However, I wasn't completely thrilled or rapt (however nicely described) by the novel for a couple of reasons. The story
I turned the corner and started to walk towards it, the memory of Sylvie’s smile shining sweet and sad in my head.

Last line from The Bullet Trick by Louise Welsh. I was slightly apprehensive about reading this after Naming the Bones but I think every author deserves a second chance. Anyway, I’m shallow and was drawn to the title and cover.

The Bullet Trick started promisingly with some interesting if depressing characters but like Naming the Bones, the story dragged and my attention wandered. We
A difficult review after the expectations set by The Cutting Room, Welsh's previous full-length novel.
Fluently and well written, with no descriptive passages that felt overlong.
Unfortunately this feels like a retreading of much old ground in Glasgow, with the new locations of London and Berlin not being as fully realised and believable.
The main character of William Wilson is a pale version of the more complex Rilke from The Cutting Room.
I did enjoy the background of magic and illusions (which re
Rachel Sargeant
I enjoyed this. I didn't give it four stars because I saw the solutions to both mysteries quite early on. Also the initial set-ups to both mysteries were quite contrived. However, I would give five stars to the children's party scene. It had me shouting "Yes, good on you, Wilson" out loud.
Welsh created a believable main character, flawed, witty, at times dumb, at times resourceful. In short, likeable. I liked the way his conjuring expertise was woven into the plot in an inventive but realistic w
I really liked the Cutting Room despite its dark subject and depressing MC. I was expecting the same sort of character study in the Bullet Trick. Granted, I didn't finish so things could have picked up as it went on. But I wasn't able to engage with the first person POV of the MC. He wasn't particularly likable and there wasn't anything particularly interesting about his inner musings. Plus, I found the jumps between Scotland and Berlin a bit hard to follow. Generally speaking, I'll finish a boo ...more
Apr 27, 2012 Helen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a crime thriller/mystery with a difference. Louise Welsh's writing has been described as genre meeting literacy and I would agree with that. The hero of the novel is dishevelled, drunk, in debt, alone and flits between Glasgow and London. His occupation is illusionist/magician and he lands a job in a seedy club in Berlin where he meets the strange Sylvie and Uncle Dix. The book is dark with snatches of humour but little sunshine. Probably on par with her The Cutting Room and recommended.
Thom (T.E.)
The setup is great--not innovative, but wonderfully executed: a small-time magician from Scotland gets some gigs he can scratch by on, if he'll go to Berlin. There he finds the Wehrmacht atmosphere that seems to be a permanent part of the city. His assistant might be more of a Mata Hari than a Sally Bowles. Eventually, the past comes calling in a way that's common to noirs and gothics. It takes s stretch in fever-dream before the author serves up a satisfactory return to relatively concrete real ...more
Jun 20, 2016 Andyso rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The first of three books I read in one day, while having no access to the internet or anything to do except look around for reading material.
I picked this up intending to just flick through, started reading and was hooked. I was about a third of the way through before I even realised I was still standing up. I finished the rest in a very comfy chair and certainly enjoyed this tale of a semi-failed magician and his entaglements with corrupt police, criminals, dangerous women and the Berlin night
Tanya Korval
Jan 10, 2013 Tanya Korval rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's a lot I liked about The Bullet Trick. The world Welsh creates is detailed and fascinating and the down-on-his-luck magician is a compelling character. Later in the book, especially back in Glasgow, there was something that just didn't quite work for me: maybe it was just too grim. It felt like it could have done with just a few more moments of hope to offset the 'everything's depraved and corrupt and hopeless' feel - without that, it got just slightly wearing. Doesn't stop it being an ea ...more
Jevron McCrory
This was an interesting book. It felt a little directionless. It took me awhile to find out what was the main push of the story. I can't really understand how the main character, an otherwise shady selfish character, became so focused on doing the right thing here. It aims high, but falls short of it's promise in my opinion. However, I did love Ms Welsh's prose so I will be reading her other books.
Sep 23, 2007 Paige rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone stuck on a plane for more than 10 hours
Purchased with the last of my Euros from a bookshop in the Munich airport during a layover from Italy back to San Francisco, I wasn't expecting too much. Luckily, The Bullet Trick was just interesting enough to keep me reading for the better part of the 11 hour flight. Was it worth paying almost double what I would've paid in the states? No. Was it worth not having to watch the in-flight movie ("Wild Hogs" if memory serves.) Definitely.
Edwin Battistella
Jan 06, 2014 Edwin Battistella rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Bullett Trick, Louise Welsh introduces us to William Wilson, a desolate magician and habitué of sleezy cabarets and cheap bars. And he’s got some questionable friends. But Wilson is a kind of an innocent as well–a Scottish Holden Caulfield, I thought, who once got caught in a friend’s crime. That misstep dogs him in a new life in Berlin, until he is finally offered a way out. Welsh make sleeze fascinating and Wilson’s reactions reaffirm his—and our—humanity.
3 1/2
Historia interesante con su toque de magia (ilusionismo), gran ritmo y buenos personajes. La estructura narrativa, alternando escenarios y tiempos (pasado y presente) no resulta para nada confusa, lo cual habla bien de las dotes como escritora de Welsh. Una trama de género negro bastante cinematográfica, y que casi evoca a un detective clásico a lo Marlowe, sin ser esa la esencia de su protagonista.
Sep 21, 2015 Cathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2015
This is the 3rd Welsh book that I've read, and I really liked it. (As I did The Cutting Room, altho I was rather underwhelmed and disappointed by The Girl on the Stairs). Like The Cutting Room, it inhabits the seedier side of life, and swops between Berlin, Glasgow and London, with two timelines. I was intrigued by the central mystery, but also by the unfolding story itself - the cast of characters and what happens to them, and the insights into their worlds.
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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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