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 compulsive journey of discovery, decadence and deviousness follows.
Year of Publication
Tartan noir meets gothic erotica in Welsh's accomplished debut, and many readers still wish for a return of her intriguing amateur detective, Rilke. A house-clearer and street-drifter, the gay Rilke brought issues of homosexuality into the sometimes defiantly macho Scottish novel. Welsh neatly parallels Rilke's discovery of snuffish photographs with the nature of the crime novel itself. -- Stuart Kelly
Not ‘sexy’ as such, but certainly dealing with the dark side of male desire head on. Via a knotty descent into the criminal underworld, Welsh’s narrator, Rilke, unravels the mystery of a missing woman in a snuff picture. - Alan Bissett