Crime Paperback – May 26 2009
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Quite literally, Welsh's protagonist is a mess, an emotional and mental wreck bedeviled by memories of the little girl he couldn't save, his thoughts filled with the degenerates he interviewed while searching for the missing girl, their twisted world-views eating into his soul until he sees such men everywhere: "Lennox was too sensitive to cope with the savagery that surrounded him in Serious Crimes." A beautifully flawed protagonist, this tough cop is driven to his knees by the evil that assaults helpless children, even Trudi unable to break through the wall of pain that threatens to overwhelm him. As his drinking accelerates, the inevitable happens- a bitter argument. Trudi stalks off to their Miami hotel, leaving Ray at a bar, his rage and thirst for drink and self-punishment sending him into the embrace of the denizens who feed on the innocence of the poor and vulnerable. From tourist-friendly Miami to the darker, meaner streets of abuse, drugs and various forms of depravity, Lennox is in free fall, partying with his new best friends, trapped in yet another nightmare, groggily rescuing ten-year-old Tianna from the circling sharks.
Once again, Welsh is at the top of his game, his extremely sympathetic, tormented hero struggling for clarity far from his native Scotland, on a mad chase with a child across Florida to evade her predators, Trudi flailing at her helplessness and this vacation-run-amok, wondering what she is doing with this man. Ray's torment is a beautiful thing in Welsh's hands, including the flashbacks in Edinburgh that lay the groundwork for the protagonist's mental condition, a cynical, often sardonic cop caught in the vortex of a crime he most detests, looking for redemption with a damaged child at his side. This is a tough story- no punches pulled- the ugly underbelly of this particular form of degeneracy exposed to the light. Physically and mentally battered, Lennox is called upon to exorcise his long-repressed demons in a final effort to save himself from the horrors around him. Miami will never be the same, this wild Scot marking his territory as he races with Tianna one step ahead of the villains: "It really does become... the battle between good and evil." Luan Gaines/ 2008.
The plot moves back and forth between the past and it's ghosts to the present day and the pressing matter of saving a child from a gang of molesters. The characters were so vivid and the plot was paced such that I found I could not put the book down.
It comes across as a more mature read than the likes of train spotting. One of his best works I feel.
Welsh gives us police detective inspector Ray Lennox, of the Edinburgh P.D., (as Rankin has given us John Rebus.) Lennox has recently solved a particularly ugly child kidnapping/abuse/murder; but has solved it too late for the child, Britney Hamil. Lennox, a brilliant cop, is physically and mentally exhausted; finding it far too easy to fall back on his favored crutches: alcohol, cocaine, and whatever else he can. His superiors put him on mental health leave. He and his fiancée Trudi jet to sunny Miami; but, while Trudi is poring over "Perfect Bride," nagging him to pick the date and the venue, Lennox is continuing to fall apart. They quarrel; he's off for a night, during which he hooks up with two desperate young women, Robyn and Starry: and follows Robyn home for a coke session, painted in dark realism. Robyn's 10-year old daughter Tianna sleeps in her bedroom off the living room as best she can. Two threatening strangers, who obviously mean Tianna no good, burst in. Lennox grabs the young girl, and, in an interesting reversal of Vladimir Nabokov's famous book Lolita; he rents a car and hits the road with the child - not to abuse her, but to try to protect her from abuse.
The author has crafted a book that I found thoroughly satisfying as a taut police procedural/thriller; but it's also a probing psychological evaluation of Lennox, and a scalding observation of the pedophiliac world. His descriptive and narrative writing are superb. His characters are carved to the life, off-the wall; their profanity-rich dialog is inventive. They interact in a threatening, topsy-turvy universe, filled with Welsh's well-known comedic absurdity and wit, in which Trudi's well-thumbed copy of "Perfect Bride" plays its - unexpected - part. And yet, he offers us hope.
The protagonist Ray Lennox is a Detective Inspector with the Edinburgh, Scotland Police Department. Haunted by a murdered child case, Ray is forced to go on medical leave and heads to South Florida with his fiance for a little R+R. Ray gets caught up in a situation ultimately being responsible for a ten year old girl he doesn't know.
The book switches back and forth between the present day, on vacation in Florida and the case that haunts Ray back in Scotland. The pace and tempo are superb. Just when you think you know what is going to happen you are hit from a completely different direction.
He also creates and develops a typically claustrophobic storyline, with a colourful cast of characters. There is much less reliance on the vernacular devices that have been his trademark for so long, and Crime demonstrates a growing maturity. Even so, Welsh still captures the chaotic mindset of the obsessive, of the dark desires of humanity, of the seedy underbelly of life.
The ending peters out a little timidly, compared to say the shock ending of Filth, but there is enough leading up to that to satisfy old fans and gain new ones.