Crime

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(327)

Irvine Welsh, Jonathan Cape, £12.99

If you were disappointed by Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs, you'll be pleased to know that Crime is Irvine Welsh's return to dark, sinister and disturbing form.

If you're unfamiliar with Welsh, reading Crime is an excellent way to acquaint yourself. The novel focuses on Ray Lennox, a policeman on the brink of nervous collapse. He is taking a holiday in Florida with his fiancée, Judy, to recuperate after resolving a sinister case of child abduction. He finds himself embroiled in a Florida-wide paedophile ring and ends up supervising a young girl they had abused, with a bent cop on his tail. This does nothing to ease Lennox's drug-addled mind as he is thrust into the very world he had come to Florida to escape.

There are three skilfully interwoven threads to Crime: the Florida paedophile ring in the present, the Edinburgh child sex murder in the recent past and occasional flashes into Lennox's childhood. It is a testimony to Welsh's skill that a policeman (and a corrupt one at that) is completely humanised, and a difficult and sensitive subject is handled with taste and care.

That is not to say that some parts of the novel are not harrowing. As ever, Welsh does not shy away from the more shocking elements of his tale, and Crime is essentially a stunning exploration of the darkest parts of the human psyche, one which will haunt the reader long after the final page.