Author: Irvine Welsh
Page Count/Review Word Count: 404
Filth is one of Irvine Welsh’s finer novels, and that’s saying something. I usually try not to go too deeply into the story line when I’m reviewing books, but I think that it’s warranted in this case – I’ll try to avoid spoilers, though.
In this book, we follow what happens to Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson after he heads off to Amsterdam, to “kick off Christmas with a week of sex and drugs”. In this sometimes seedy setting, he finds himself looking into a murderer, whilst dealing with a severe case of gastrointestinal distress – he has a tapeworm, and interestingly enough, it forms a sizeable part of the narrative.
In fact, it’s interesting to see how Welsh deals with this – he uses all sorts of different tricks, including unusual layout techniques, to represent this, and it does actually play a key part in the unfolding of events in the novel, although I’m not going to tell you any more than I’ve already told you. What I will say, though, is that our protagonist here is interesting enough to keep you riveted right up until the end of the book, and you’ll end up feeling sorry for him, even though he is a little bit of a bastard.
If you’re new to Irvine Welsh’s work then this is a pretty good place to start, although I always find it hard to choose between them – I also haven’t had the pleasure of re-reading any of his work, and I’ll probably never get round to it. Luckily, I have a lot of it still to look forward to, but Filth is one of the best that I’ve read so far. The cover design is also awesome, and it’s a nice added touch – even though they say that you should never judge a book by its cover.
Overall then, I’d definitely recommend this book if you’re looking for a new, alternative read, especially if the idea of a slightly bent copper with a bunch of personal problems appeals to you. At the very least, I found him easy to relate to, even if that does say more about me than it says about Robertson. I know what it’s like to have a dodgy stomach, although a tapeworm has never talked to me. Come to think of it, I’ve never had a tapeworm.