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3.5 out of 5 stars22
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VINE VOICEon 2 August 2006
Welsh's third novel is a really good offering.

William Wilson is a struggling magician who gets caught up in a missing person's and double murder case which he feels compelled to investigate.

The novel is set in three locations; London,Berlin and Glasgow. The structure is interesting as the novel slips backwards and forwards in time, however it remains easy to keep up with and more intriguing as a result.

The themes are similar to those we saw in her first novel 'The Cutting Room'; perversion, murder, intrigue and the darker side of life. Yet having sections of the book set in Berlin on the Burlesque circuit give it a Cabaret-esque feel. It's gritty without ever being gratuitous.

Really worth a read if you enjoyed The Cutting Room, but I did deduct one star for the ending which I felt was a bit of a let down.
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VINE VOICEon 5 September 2006
Welsh's third novel is a really good offering.

William Wilson is a struggling magician who gets caught up in a missing person's and double murder case which he feels compelled to investigate.

The novel is set in three locations; London,Berlin and Glasgow. The structure is interesting as the novel slips backwards and forwards in time, however it remains easy to keep up with and more intriguing as a result.

The themes are similar to those we saw in her first novel 'The Cutting Room'; perversion, murder, intrigue and the darker side of life. Yet having sections of the book set in Berlin on the Burlesque circuit give it a Cabaret-esque feel. It's gritty without ever being gratuitous.

Really worth a read if you enjoyed The Cutting Room, but I did deduct one star for the ending which I felt was a bit of a let down.
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on 23 May 2009
The Bullet Trick is Louise Welsh's second novel, which deftly follows up on her first The Cutting Room. Like her first book, this is a story that shoots for the gothic and carnivalesque, but it doesn't quite hit the mark.

William Wilson is a magician on the last leg of a faltering career when an old friend asks him to do a second-rate show in a London strip club. What happens during the show drags Wilson into the violent aftermath of a dusty missing person's case.

The story is set in three cities - Glasgow, London and Berlin - and Welsh effortlessly shifts between locations without losing the reader. Her depiction of these places and Wilson's burlesque underground world is commendable, while the quirky showmen and grifters he meets along the way are appealing, if not memorable.

Louise Welsh's writing is concise, and her style is playful in a way that makes the language itself alluring. In places the novel drags a bit, but the only real disappointment is William Wilson's eventual show-down with the killer hunting him. One is left with a sense that the back story was more powerful than William Wilson's awakening as an unlikely hero. Taken as a whole, it's a fine read to pass the time, but chances are you won't remember the details a week from now.
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on 7 April 2007
I like Louise Walsh, the Cutting room was excellent and Tamburlaine Must Die intriguing. This novel is in the same style as the Cutting Room, and if you liked that, then this is worth a read.

I found the novel an easy read, and perhaps less dark and tense than previous novels, also it is a tad transparent; the ending I think was reasonably obvious, so there is loss of stars for that. But the story on the whole is good, if not a tad rushed at the end; the tension and suspense that was palpable earlier in the novel is dissipated a tad too quickly for my liking. Rankin is probably better at the tension and drawing this out as long as possible.

The main characters are good though and most are believable; although the police officers appear flat, perhaps this a problem that Walsh needs to look at; in the Cutting Room the secondary players in the story had no development.

On the whole I am glad I read this; but no prizes this time.
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on 5 March 2007
Make no mistake, Louise Welsh is a very good and intelligent author. She creates sympathetic characters and brings an underlying eroticism to her story-telling. These factors combine to make the book a page turner. The problem is that I couldn't suspend disbelief. The plotting isn't tight enough and the resolution of the various plots is particularly weak.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 20 January 2015
This was the third published novel by this author, but only the second by her that I have read so far. I thoroughly enjoyed this read, but I can understand why readers may not. The story moves between Glasgow/London in the present, and back to the protagonist’s past from about a year previous in Glasgow and Berlin; the chapters move us ever forward from his past to the present at the end of the novel where both threads meet up and converge. The story is told by William Wilson, a conjuror who has given up on ever expecting to become rich and famous from his calling, and who finds himself all too easily resorting to drink and bad habits, using what money he gains from gigs in seedy nightclubs or entertainment joints. At a low point in his life he is booked for a gig at a nightclub which is to be held for a retiring policeman; and it’s there that his life goes from bad to worse. The story in this book is William’s tale from that night.

I found William a character who could all too easily exist in this world of ours; depressed and lonely, living from hand to mouth, cynical and bitter, and jaded by his experience of life. The pit he finds himself being drawn to is, if anything, even worse than the life he has been living up to now, and he makes a last desperate attempt for some kind of redemption before it’s all too late. The settings of the book are depressed, dirty, seedy and show all the underbellies of modern towns that we would prefer to think didn’t exist. But the story itself is a real one; of one man and his clinging to some form of humanity in an inhuman environment. A gritty and disturbing story, I found myself totally engrossed in William’s life, and the story as told by himself, using his own dialect and experiences. Very well written, and well paced, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and hoped that I never found myself in any of the circumstances that William did.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 20 January 2015
This was the third published novel by this author, but only the second by her that I have read so far. I thoroughly enjoyed this read, but I can understand why readers may not. The story moves between Glasgow/London in the present, and back to the protagonist’s past from about a year previous in Glasgow and Berlin; the chapters move us ever forward from his past to the present at the end of the novel where both threads meet up and converge. The story is told by William Wilson, a conjuror who has given up on ever expecting to become rich and famous from his calling, and who finds himself all too easily resorting to drink and bad habits, using what money he gains from gigs in seedy nightclubs or entertainment joints. At a low point in his life he is booked for a gig at a nightclub which is to be held for a retiring policeman; and it’s there that his life goes from bad to worse. The story in this book is William’s tale from that night.

I found William a character who could all too easily exist in this world of ours; depressed and lonely, living from hand to mouth, cynical and bitter, and jaded by his experience of life. The pit he finds himself being drawn to is, if anything, even worse than the life he has been living up to now, and he makes a last desperate attempt for some kind of redemption before it’s all too late. The settings of the book are depressed, dirty, seedy and show all the underbellies of modern towns that we would prefer to think didn’t exist. But the story itself is a real one; of one man and his clinging to some form of humanity in an inhuman environment. A gritty and disturbing story, I found myself totally engrossed in William’s life, and the story as told by himself, using his own dialect and experiences. Very well written, and well paced, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and hoped that I never found myself in any of the circumstances that William did.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 20 January 2015
This was the third published novel by this author, but only the second by her that I have read so far. I thoroughly enjoyed this read, but I can understand why readers may not. The story moves between Glasgow/London in the present, and back to the protagonist’s past from about a year previous in Glasgow and Berlin; the chapters move us ever forward from his past to the present at the end of the novel where both threads meet up and converge. The story is told by William Wilson, a conjuror who has given up on ever expecting to become rich and famous from his calling, and who finds himself all too easily resorting to drink and bad habits, using what money he gains from gigs in seedy nightclubs or entertainment joints. At a low point in his life he is booked for a gig at a nightclub which is to be held for a retiring policeman; and it’s there that his life goes from bad to worse. The story in this book is William’s tale from that night.

I found William a character who could all too easily exist in this world of ours; depressed and lonely, living from hand to mouth, cynical and bitter, and jaded by his experience of life. The pit he finds himself being drawn to is, if anything, even worse than the life he has been living up to now, and he makes a last desperate attempt for some kind of redemption before it’s all too late. The settings of the book are depressed, dirty, seedy and show all the underbellies of modern towns that we would prefer to think didn’t exist. But the story itself is a real one; of one man and his clinging to some form of humanity in an inhuman environment. A gritty and disturbing story, I found myself totally engrossed in William’s life, and the story as told by himself, using his own dialect and experiences. Very well written, and well paced, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and hoped that I never found myself in any of the circumstances that William did.
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on 20 March 2010
I picked up this book from my library, the picture first caught my eye and then the title, and when I read the blurb and noticed that some of it was set in Berlin ...... I was travelling to Berlin soon ....... I just had to borrow it. And I'm really pleased that I did as I absolutely loved it.

The story starts in present day Glasgow and travels back and forth in time to Berlin and London narrated by William Wilson, Mentalist and Illusionist, who was

"the warm-up act for a whole trough of comedians and stand ups. The guy nobody came to see."

When his agent sends him to a London club for a gig he somehow gets mixed up in a missing persons mystery, involving the police and blackmail, and where, shortly after, two men are found shot to death, he decides it would be a good idea to disappear and take another job in a cabaret club in Berlin....... but, unfortunately, his troubles have only just begun. As the chapters alternate between the different cities and the different times, I loved the way Louise Welsh built up the suspense, we knew something terrible had happened to William earlier but the clues are slowly dragged out and the story never slows or gets boring.

Even though William is not the most endearing of characters, he drinks too much, smokes too much, and at the beginning of the book he gambles too much, but his witty and dry humour had me laughing out loud a couple of times and I found myself liking him more and more as his life starts to unravel in the darkly gothic world of glamour and magic.

The descriptions of his illusionist acts were fascinating, all the various larger than life characters were well-defined and I was totally engrossed from start to finish.
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on 6 August 2007
The Bullet Trick was BBC Radio Scotland's Book Club book of the month earlier in the year and having coincidently watched Caberet on DVD just a few days before I found myself a copy....What a great read!

Louise Welsh has crafted a seedy and gritty novel whose main characters I had an instant empathy with. It's a story that gains it's own pace before exploding into a surprise double ending.

The book evokes a certain Scottishness, with nod to Chandler's loner PI's and Caberet's theatrical review, that I really enjoyed.
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