The Second Cut

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Pub Date 27 Jan 2022 | Archive Date 27 Jan 2022

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Auctioneer Rilke has been trying to stay out of trouble, keeping his life more or less respectable. Business has been slow at Bowery Auctions, so when an old friend, Jojo, gives Rilke a tip-off for a house clearance, life seems to be looking up. The next day Jojo washes up dead.

Jojo liked Grindr hook-ups and recreational drugs – is that the reason the police won’t investigate? And if Rilke doesn’t find out what happened to Jojo, who will?

Thrilling and atmospheric, The Second Cut delves into the dark side of twenty-first century Glasgow. Twenty years on from his appearance in The Cutting Room, Rilke is still walking a moral tightrope between good and bad, saint and sinner.

Auctioneer Rilke has been trying to stay out of trouble, keeping his life more or less respectable. Business has been slow at Bowery Auctions, so when an old friend, Jojo, gives Rilke a tip-off for a...

Advance Praise

‘I doubt I'll read a better book this year. Dark, funny and humane, Louise Welsh tells the stories that nobody else dares’
VAL McDERMID        

‘If writing a sequel to a bona fide Scottish classic weighed heavily on Louise Welsh you’d never know. The Second Cut grips from the very opening pages. The Glasgow it portrays is seamy but humane, its cast of characters flawed but endearing. The whole thing is compelling, immersive and brimming with life. A great achievement’

‘Plunges the reader straight into Glasgow’s underbelly. This is hard-boiled Scottish crime writing at its best’

‘One of the most enjoyable mysteries I’ve read this year, The Second Cut had me from the word go. Rilke’s world feels rife with possibilities for dark doings – and Welsh’s writing is fresh, funny, fearless and fun’

‘This return to the world of Rilke is a masterclass in engaging storytelling. Emotionally complex, and full of dark wit and deviant energy, this is a wonderful examination of the state of our culture today’

Praise for The Cutting Room:

‘One of the most intriguing, assured and unputdownable debuts to come out of Scotland in recent years . . . A stunning work of fiction’
Sunday Times        

‘A remarkable first novel’
New York Times        

‘I was hooked from page one. Rilke is not Welsh's only great creation. The huge supporting cast of misfits and outsiders . . . are equally memorable. And Glasgow becomes a character in itself: it is oppressive, foreboding – a dark place for a dark tale’

‘Astonishingly this is a first novel, catapulting Welsh straight into the superstar league, while establishing Rilke as a true original’
The Times        

‘Welsh upturns tropes and adds depth, seedy detail and Gothic lyricism to the page-turner framework’

‘I doubt I'll read a better book this year. Dark, funny and humane, Louise Welsh tells the stories that nobody else dares’
VAL McDERMID        

‘If writing a sequel to a bona fide Scottish classic...

Available Editions

EDITION Hardcover
ISBN 9781838850869
PRICE £14.99 (GBP)

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Featured Reviews

An absolute masterpiece in writing life as it really is for Glasgow's marginalised cultures, and those hovering around the cusps of respectability. Perfectly structured and plotted, with colourful and lively characters, this has been the best book I have read this year. Absolutely recommended.

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This is such a brilliant book. It was my introduction to Louise Welsh, and I ordered her previous books as soon as I finished it. It's a really good crime/police thriller, but written from the perspective of Rilke, an auctioneer, whose friend Jojo dies unexpectedly and Rilke tries to find out how and why. Rilke gets helped and hindered by various characters in the book, with lots of twists in the plot. The main characters are great, all larger-than-life personalities, each of whom stays true to type throughout the book. There's a lot of humour in it. All the plot strands are wrapped up at the end, some in unexpected ways.

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Gritty, Dark, Stupendous… When friend JoJo turns up dead, Auctioneer Rilke is determined to find out why and who did it. The Police are no help, another question that needs some answers. After all, if Rilke won’t investigate who the heck will? Gritty and dark with a fast moving, gripping plot, bursting with atmosphere, laced with edgy humour and characters that leap from the page. This has nerves jangling and on edge for the very first page to the very last. Stupendous.

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I have not read The Cutting Room, Louise Welsh's earlier thriller featuring Rilke and Rose Bowery, but I now have every intention of doing so! I have absolutely loved this book, for its literary prose - so unlike the run-of-the-mill thrillers which usually get attention - and for its descriptions of a louche and alternative scene of queerness. She makes each character believable, no matter how larger-than-life. I can't recommend this highly enough.

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This is an intriguing book. It is very well written and covers issues unusual in this kind of fiction. It is a return book for auctioneer Rilke and his boss Rose. He is part of the Glasgow sex and drugs scene which is used brilliantly as the background for the story. The story is mainly about the death of Rilke’s sort-of-friend Jojo who is found dead in a doorway, drugged and drunk. That, though, is only part of the interest of the book. The involvement of the auction house in the sale of Ballantine House Involves Rilke in other issues which test his morality and conscience. There are several themes to this book and each will keep you reading. If you happen to know Glasgow, it will compel you even more. It is an unusual book, drawing attention to important issues. I recommend it.

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Seriously one of my fave books of the year. Fresh, funny but also malevolent and dark. This book completely lives up to Welsh's first book and I so enjoyed it. The characters are incredibly well drawn and she had a perfect way of establishing dialogue that blew me away. Loved it.

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I haven't read The Cutting Room and it's not essential to know the background when reading this book - although I will now be getting a copy! Rilke is an auctioneer, with some shadowy connections in Glasgow's underworld. An acquaintance and regular business associate gives him a tip about a house that needs cleared, then turns up dead the next day, and all may not be as it seems at the house. It's really well written and whilst Rilke is investigating a crime he's not your typical crime novel protagonist. I enjoyed it and there are some tense moments, as well as lots of unexpected twists.

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This is the sequel to Louise Welsh's award winning The Cutting Room, featuring and following up the life of Bowery Auctions Head Auctioneer, Rilke. I have not read the first book but it made no difference to how much I loved this. Whilst this may ostensibly be viewed as a crime and mystery novel, it is more about Glasgow's LBQT+ community and gay scene, documenting how it has changed through the years. Whilst there are still dangers associated with being queer, things have moved on, gays are far more accepted, and they are getting married as the opening moments of the novel testify with the wedding of the 2 Bobbys that Rilke is attending. It is here that he bumps into old friend and client, the ageing Joseph Nugent aka Jojo, drunk, looking the worse for wear, his body showing all the repercussions of a drug fuelled sexually decadent lifestyle. Jojo leaves for a sex party, but not before he has sold a lucrative house clearing tip to Rikle. When Jojo is found dead on a doorstep the following day, Rikle is left unsettled and feeling a sense of guilt, particularly as Jojo is reported as being one of the city's homeless. The more he tries to find out what happened, the more he keeps coming up against a wall, the police are uninterested as there seems to be nothing untoward about the death, but Rilke just can't let it go. After Covid and hard times, Bowery Auctions is struggling financially, so when Jojo's tip turns out to be the remote Bannatyne House, filled to the rafters with valuables for them to sell at auction, Rose and Rilke are over the moon. However, there are ill omens that hang over their potential bonanza, an abandoned burnt out Micra in which the two occupants died, the horror of a Jack Russell entombed in a trunk, rumours that the sellers, cousins John and Alec Forrest, are taking advantage of the owner of the house who would never have sanctioned the sale of the house contents, the rescue of a terrorised Asian man that suggests there are trafficked people being used as forced labour, and the menacing presence of the vicious and volatile gangster, Jamie Mitchell. The highlight of Welsh's character driven novel are the colourful and vibrant queer community, the queens, the outrageous, the offbeat, the reckless, the disturbed and the disturbing. The professional life of Rilke goes hand in hand with his more toned down personal life, but he wouldn't be Rilke without the presence of danger, his use of Grindr to meet strangers for sex, and his urges, that he manages to control, to join the drug fuelled sex parties, despite the attendant risks that go with them. He is a good man who wants to protect and help others, like wanting to save the young art student Sands from his worst impulses, perhaps because he recognises his younger self in him. This is a wonderfully written and dark read that depicts the seedier side of Glasgow, its criminal underbelly, amidst the background of contemporary queer circles. Highly recommended. Many thanks to the publisher for an ARC.

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The stunning and long-awaited sequel to The cutting room, Welsh's masterpiece originally published in 2002, The second cut is a riveting and menacing tale of criminal shenanigans set in and around contemporary Glasgow and where once again we enter the secret world of private auctions where nothing is as clean-cut as it appears... Add to it very suspicious deaths, despicable human trafficking and a higly toxic and deadly synthetic drug that seems to be wreaking havoc among the LGBTQ community and you will get a very twisted tapestry of human follies oozing greed, recklessness, ruthlessness and violent deaths.... Very dark and unsettling fiction, full of threatening shadows, barely repressed violence and some very disturbed characters that will keep titillating all your senses until the very end. A brilliantly plotted thriller from one of the best wordsmiths in mystery fiction at work today in the English language that deserves to be enjoyed without any moderation whatsoever👍👍 Many thanks to Netgalley and Canongate for this terrific ARC

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For me, this book is difficult to review. I love the character of Rilke, self-deprecatory and self aware, as he picks his way through a fairly uncomplicated plot. Ms. Welsh's writing is excellent, full of skilfully inserted literary references. I particularly enjoyed catching one from my favourite poet. So far, very enjoyable. Where I part company from it is the explicit description of a mass sexual orgy. I'm afraid I was unable to stomach it and it coloured my consideration of the rest of the book. Perhaps if I had read the previous Rilke novel, I would have been prepared for it. I will not rob Ms. Welsh of her well-deserved five stars because of my sensibilities. Regretfullt, however, I will not seek out Rilke's earlier adventures.

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