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Naming the Bones [Paperback]

Louise Welsh
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Book Description

3 Feb 2011
Some secrets are best left buried ...Knee-deep in the mud of an ancient burial ground, a winter storm raging around him, and at least one person intent on his death: how did Murray Watson end up here?

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd (3 Feb 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847672566
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847672568
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 114,014 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Before becoming a full-time writer Louise Welsh ran a second hand bookshop. She has been the recipient of several awards including the John Creasey Memorial Dagger, the Saltire first book award and in 2007 was included in Waterstones list of twenty-five authors for the future. She has also written for radio and stage and in 2009 produced a libretto for Scottish Opera's 5:15 series. She lives in Glasgow. You can learn more about Louise at

Product Description


Welsh is adept at keeping you reading till the end. --The Daily Mail

Saturated with dark imagery... enjoyable and exciting. --Times Literary Supplement

Naming the Bones combines a whip-cracking plot with a sure literary touch. --Anna Burnside, Sunday Times

Top-notch tartan noir . . . Welsh is the best of the current crop of clever crime writers returning some conspicuous craft to the genre. --Independent on Sunday

It's not magic that takes us to another world - it's storytelling. And Louise Welsh is mistress of that dark art. --Val McDermid

About the Author

Louise Welsh is the bestselling author of The Cutting Room, Tamburlaine Must Die and The Bullet Trick. She was chosen as one of Britain's Best First Novelists of 2002 by the Guardian. Her awards include the Crime Writers' Association Creasey Dagger and the Saltire First Book Award. She lives in Glasgow.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'unravelling two tangled knots' 7 Mar 2010
In this, her fourth novel, Louise Welsh approaches the notion of crime from a different angle. The standard interpretation, that of the perpetration of an unlawful act, is laid to one side in favour of creating a story that hinges on an act (a series of acts, even) of serious moral wrongdoing. This has the effect of blurring the boundary between the crime-writing genre and literary fiction and, it must be said, the author pulls it off admirably.

Naming the Bones is set in the competitive world of Scottish academia; in particular, the universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh. Doctor Murray Watson, a Glasgow professor of English literature, sets himself the task, by way of writing a book, of restoring the image of Archie Lunan, a promising poet whose early death 30 years previously had consigned him to obscurity.

Lunan had died in mysterious circumstances on the remote Scottish island of Lismore and was buried there. Murray bases his research on a close reading of a slim volume of Lunan's poetry, a box of barely decipherable papers and word-of-mouth testimony of those among his academic peers who claimed to have known Lunan.

However what started as research soon becomes a quest to seek out the truths, not only about Lunan's life and death but also about what lies behind the climate of intrigue, deviancy and betrayal he discovers to be prevalent in the universities.

Thus the reader is presented with the trope of a writer/critic cast in the role of an amateur detective. A role that, incidentally, also serves to send Murray on a journey of self-discovery in which parallels in the lives of his subject and himself become more and more evident.

Louise Welsh's strong points of vivid characterization and intricate plotting are at the forefront of this entertaining novel. Four stars.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another brilliant book from a master storyteller. 26 April 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Louise Welsh's fourth book does not disappoint.
In Naming the Bones her characters are three dimensional. Even the nastiest of them has some redeeming feature. The locations, particularly, but not only, the rain soaked island where the denouement is set, are so well drawn you feel the rain running down the back of your neck - or is that the hairs standing on end? Dark, edgy writing draws you in to her well crafted plot.
And you know that her erudition that is hinted at with classical and other references is the tip of an iceberg. She's a clever lass.
I am so looking forward to her next book.
What world are you taking us to then, Louise?
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intrigue, Betrayal and Lyricism 15 April 2010
By H. meiehofer VINE VOICE
Young academic sets off on research into long dead poet, whom nobody else rates. Doesn't really sound like the basis for a good story.

Thankfully in Louise Welsh we have one of the finest writers of our age who turns this seemingly unpromising material into an intriguing dark tale of mystery and betrayal.

The story does start in a rather mundane way, with our hero Murray Watson setting off on his research about the poet Archie Luhan. However, although the subject does not appear inspiring the writing does draw one in and Welsh's skill lies in planting the idea in the reader's mind,

"There's something not quite right here".

This sense of unease is what makes this tale so intriguing and also makes the story so convincing. Yes there are twists and surprises, but these are like events in real life rather than the contrivances of so much fiction. Like the hero the reader feels as if something is going to happen, but doesn't know exactly what.

This is a masterful tale beautifully told. I find it impossible to fault Louise Welsh at all. The plot is intriguing, the characters are interesting, the writing is just so beautiful and the evocation of place is right on the button.

This is one of the best novels to emerge from Scotland (or anywhere else for that matter) in many years.

Fans of Louise Welsh will enjoy this new treat and it is a great place to start for those who have not yet discovered this great writer.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slow start, good finish 1 Jun 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Ever since "The Cutting Room", you can rely on Louise Welsh to produce a good story. The story is built up slowly but steadily and also has all the usual sightings of familiar places in Glasgow and Edinburgh. During the closing sequence it did lose a bit as it tried to tie up absolutely all of the loose ends. Overall top class.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elementary my dear Watson. 12 Mar 2010
The previous reviewer has nailed the essence of this story. I also think Welsh has created some good characters especially the female charcters. The form of a quest, the underworld setting of Glasgow and the insular mysteriousness of the island also worked for me. The protagonist - Dr Murray Watson - (why do I keep thinking of Sherlock Holmes?)doesn't have that pyschological edge that Rilke (The Cutting Room)has; but then again isn't it good to leave the reader wanting more? There are some similarites to A.S. Byatt's Possession but also many differences. Those looking for an intellectual read will be disappointed - a good lay in the sun (irony not intended) and forget about life read. I am an admirer of Welsh and I wasn't disappointed. I look forward to the next novel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing plot 29 Jun 2011
By Freckles VINE VOICE
I enjoyed this book immensely. Not having read any of Louise Welsh's novels before, it has left me wanting more.

The story was slightly slow to get going, but that did not detract me and I was up until the wee hours finishing it. The story moves between Glasgow, Scotland and the isle of Lismore. It was the story on the island which I found the most interesting, with fascinating characters and an intriguing plot.

Well worth a read and I will be searching for more of Ms Welsh's novels.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Welsh Masterpiece
Was there a murder? I was on tenterhooks until the last few chapters as the story unfolded - throughly enjoyed it
Published 2 months ago by Mr. N. C. Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Read
Although I found this a little slow to start, once I got into it I couldn’t put it down. A great piece of writing , every bit as good as The Cutting Room.
Published 5 months ago by Amy
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing from Start to Finish
This was one of my great reads of 2013: a novel that manages to be both beautifully written and constructed and a darn good story: rarer than you might suppose and much appreciated... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Catherine Czerkawska
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a page-turner with a difference. The pace ...
This is a page-turner with a difference. The pace is gentle, the characters believable. There are interesting twists towards the end.
Published 8 months ago by S. Porteous
4.0 out of 5 stars Grappling for the Truth
Welsh's fourth story is an atmospheric thriller set in Glasgow, Edinburgh and the Scots islands. Dr Murray Watson, an academic in the English Department at Glasgow University,... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Kate Hopkins
3.0 out of 5 stars book club
not what I thought from reading prev, not as griping, easy to put down and forget about if not for book club and having to read it by certain time. Read more
Published 19 months ago by S J HUNTER
4.0 out of 5 stars Armchair Scottish holiday
Naming the Bones by Louise Welsh is a well-written mystery/thriller concerning a Glaswegian literary academic Murray Watson on a fact-finding trail of a long-forgotten poet called... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Callmerick
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read
I'm a bit hazy as to how Louise Welsh's Naming the Bones came to be in the pile of books-yet-to-be-read that sits by my bedside, but I am glad that it landed there as it was a most... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Jimbo
4.0 out of 5 stars Darkly different....
I've long been a fan of the darkly different books of Louise Welsh. This slightly unusual thriller really grabs your attention from the opening page, it quickly becomes one of... Read more
Published on 16 Jan 2012 by jaffareadstoo
1.0 out of 5 stars Dreadful turgid rubbish.....
I have read all the previous Welsh novels and enjoyed them.
Something has gone wrong here though. It has taken me over 2 months to read this turgid rubbish. Read more
Published on 16 July 2011 by York8500
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