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The Cutting Room

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  2,889 ratings  ·  245 reviews
When Rilke, a dissolute and promiscuous auctioneer, comes upon a hidden collection of violent and highly disturbing photographs, he feels compelled to unearth more about the deceased owner who coveted them.

What follows is a compulsive journey of discovery, decadence, and deviousness that leads Rilke into a dark underworld of transvestite clubs, seedy bars, and porn shops.
Paperback, 294 pages
Published November 25th 2003 by Canongate Books (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
Jeffrey Keeten
”I’m twenty-five years at the auction house, forty-three years of age. They call me Rilke to my face, behind my back the Cadaver, Corpse, Walking Dead. Aye, well, I may be gaunt of face and long of limb but I don’t smell and I never expect anything.”

Rilke has been called out to a deal of a lifetime. A house brimming with antiques that will put Bowery Auctions back in the black. The sister of the deceased owner wants a quick sale, not for the usual reasons of greed, but because she wants to free
Nenia ✨️ I yeet my books back and forth ✨️ Campbell

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A man not satisfied with looking up women's skirts, he wanted to get closer, ever closer, until he took the object of his desire apart, breaking it in an effort to discover how it worked (228).

Wow, it's the mystery-thriller I didn't know I desperately wanted to read. I actually got this author confused with Minette Walters when I saw it at a thrift store, because the covers and names are a little similar and both of them write dark myste
Ian "Marvin" Graye
Mar 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 rated it it was ok
Shelves: crime, fiction, lgbt, 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
Kara Babcock
May 29, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011-read, owned, mystery
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
Dec 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 06, 2016 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!
Writing this 2007 review in 2020, I am afraid I can't recall anything about this book - it's of no surprise that I have total recall of the books I highly rated. Yet again, reading the summary, this should be the type of book I'd really enjoy so I get the rationale behind my choice to read it. 4 out of 12 was the grade I gave it back in 2007.
Oct 29, 2007 rated it did not like it
I think this is the worst book I have ever read.
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
Mar 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 l
Jun 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, scotland
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
Jul 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
I found this in my daughter's room and as I was between books I figured why not. The blurbs made it sound very literary, but I don't agree. It wasn't that well written in my opinion. At the end a minor character is revealed to be another person from earlier in the book, which might have been worked great if that person had made any impression on the reader when he was encountered first off. A missed opportunity.
I don't know. I thought the plot wasn't all that well put together and I found a lot
Jim Coughenour
Jul 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 25, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Feb 25, 2013 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.
Claire Fuller
Dec 03, 2020 added it
Shelves: dnf
I loved the writing and I don't mind graphic scenes, but something about it didn't mesh and I put it down about the half way mark. I will try her other work though. ...more
Maja Osmancevic
Oct 04, 2019 rated it liked it
I took up reading this book because I found it in my new apartment + I've noticed I don't read enough fiction.
The plot development is a bit slow and Rilke's inner world starts being predictable after a while, but it's not bad for a non-serious quick read.
Strong Extraordinary Dreams
Abandoned. Empathetic YA so absolutiy not for me. Erything explained, action by action, by the annoying first person narator
Feb 05, 2021 rated it it was ok

Writing was good, but didn't really care much for the story.
Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's been five years since I listened to the audiobook, so I'm a bit foggy on the details, but this is a book that left a very strong impression on me, so I should at least try to put something down.

First things first: the audiobook is ~20hours of Robert Carlyle being an absolute delight to listen to. When the book got too much for me, his narration was the reason I pushed through (even if it was probably a bad idea to do so). He is *that* good of a narrator.

Second: this is a very dark, very i
May 05, 2009 rated it liked it
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
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
Robert Beveridge
Jan 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
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 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Oct 31, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Lukasz Pruski
Aug 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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
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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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