Book #27

Crime by Irvine Welsh

Detective Inspector Ray Lennox is recovering from a mental breakdown induced by occupational stress and cocaine abuse, and a particularly horrifying child sex murder case back in Edinburgh. On vacation in Florida, his fiancée Trudi is only interested in planning their forthcoming wedding, and a bitter argument sees a deranged Lennox cast adrift in strip-mall Florida. In a seedy bar, Lennox meets two women, ending up at their apartment for a coke binge, which is interrupted by two menacing strangers. After the ensuing brawl, Lennox finds himself alone with Tianna, the terrified ten-year-old daughter of one of the women, and a sheet of instructions that make him responsible for her immediate safety.

This Welsh novel is just as gritty and harrowing as the rest of them, but doesn’t pack the same punch for me. It's extremely dark, at times a lot darker than Welsh's other novels, and also very obviously well-researched, focusing on the difficult issue of child abuse, which is the one of the darkest themes any author could tackle.

Maybe it’s the setting - this is one of the first Welsh novels to be set across the pond, with our comfort zone usually being the underbellies of Edinburgh. This time, he takes us over to Miami, Florida, and unravels his story in the Californian sunshine - a setting this pale Scottish girl struggles to equate with Welsh’s usual offerings. For this reason, the timeline and location flicks are a gorgeous contrast, as we see Lennox’s descent into a breakdown laid alongside his almost futile attempts to heal.

The characters are strikingly realistic, and Welsh shifts between narratives and tenses in such a complex way that it's extremely effective. We’ve got our usual grotesque genius, violence, mental struggles, and bams getting jabbed, but Welsh takes care to explain Lennox’s past traumas and his total inability to let them go. There’s real heartbreak here, as we lift the stone and see the maggots scurrying underneath.

It’s an excellent exploration of the male psyche; the suppression of anguish, the damaging impact of silence, and the small breakthroughs we can have when faced with impossible situations. The clear answer is to head to Miami and boot fuck out of some paedos.