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  • Filth
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3.9 out of 5 stars
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3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 13 June 2013
Irivine Welsh has long specialised in presenting the very dregs of humanity to us along with their stories, but in his loathsome police detective Bruce Robertson, he gives us a character so depraved, so utterly unpleasant, that the real story here is the way in which Welsh manages the impossible: sympathy for the (almost literal) devil. The standard Welsh narrative crossovers are to be found; characters from his other novels pop up here and there and that trademark Edinburgh vernacular is the dominant voice once again. This novel is still, in my view, his stand-out work; not something to be said lightly given the sheer quality of his other novels. The reader will find themself in Robertson's head on an appalling journey into everything frightening and despicable about human beings and plumbing the darkest, most fathomless depths of nastiness. Robertson careers around the Scottish capital powered by drugs, pornography, alcohol and barely controlled hatred of his colleagues and friends, ostensibly pursuing a murder case, but in reality, degenerating into a psychological lagoon of horror. Very few characters in modern fiction stay with one long after they have shut the book. This one (and the gradually revealed voice within him) most certainly does. Read 'Filth' and drink in the mastery of one of the finest writers around, but expect to be infected by his creation.
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on 1 July 2008
Both Bruce Robertson and the tapeworm are sick, classic Irvine Welsh characters. Like a lot of Welsh characters, Robertson shows signs of good as well as evil, and you're never quite sure whether he's at heart a good guy just misdirected - that's what makes the book interesting. There's some really disgusting, hilarious moments in the book that only Welsh could conjure up. A lot of other reviews suggest that the book might be too long, without direction and meandering through the middle part. I'll leave that up to the reader to decide. But I really would recommend finishing the book. The last half a dozen chapters really hit you hard and they'll leave you thinking about it for a few days.
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on 17 April 2010
This is my first Irvine Welsh novel. The direct use of Scottish accent to text can be challenging to begin with - but you do get used to it. Then you are into the roller coaster, no holds barred parallel world that Welsh describes. In this novel, we are presented with DS Bruce Robertson. Outwardly one of the lads, hard working and a policeman of experience. Inside, he is a xenophobic, homophobic, philandering, alcoholic, hygiene challenged, parasite hosting, small minded miscreant. And yet he makes you smile :) This book turns your stomach, whilst simultanously urging you to read more. Welsh manages to cover most depraved elements of humanity within the pages whilst weaving what is possibly a sad story.

If you have the strength of character, single-mindedness and iron will - read and enjoy. How does he come up wth this stuff?
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VINE VOICEon 20 July 2006
This was my first Irvine Welch book and once I'd got used to the Edinburgh dialect I soon got into the swing of it and the whole sorry tale of Bruce, the rancid, corrupt, loathsome, sexist, racist, homophobic beast who masquerades as an officer of the law. They say no man is above the law, but Bruce is a law unto himself and he exploits his position to cheat, swindle and seduce all the way through the story... all the way to getting his comeuppance.

This is not a nice story but as you would expect from Mr Welsh, it's a darkly comic tale of one man's descent into madness and enduring crapulence. At times it made me laugh out loud, at others it churned my stomach and I think that is what Welsh intended. Bruce is never so bad that you can't hate him completely, but on the rare occasions when he does something right you still can't quite warm to him.

The book is easy to get into and has sufficient twists to keep you guessing, but the use of the tapeworm as a plot device just gets annoying after a while.

Dare top read this book and you'll be giving yourself a treat if you can stomach it. If buying for a friend, make sure he/she is very broaded-minded. Not for the squeamish.
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on 21 January 2003
From the very first page, Mr Welsh hooked me and dragged me into the sick and twisted world of D. S. Bruce Robertson. And I enjoyed every minute of it! Dodgy Robertson represents the evil we all think is out there... somewhere, and his level of behaviour is in the extreme or not at all! I wondered if this story is purely a work of fiction or perhaps drawn from Irvine's personal experiences and observations with the constabulary. If it's the latter, then I'm glad we live in different parts of the world. A feast of explicit sex, violence and drug use. Delicious... I'm going out to buy the rest of Irvine Welsh's books!
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on 14 September 2002
Filth is the odious depiction of one man's antipathy towards his fellow human beings, whether they be colleagues, supposed friends, or complete strangers who happen to have been born into one of the many groups he surreptitiously discriminates against. In the 'games' he plays as an escapism from his daily, worm-ridden existence, no one is exempt, not the public he has been assigned to protect, nor his beleaguered best friend, Bladesey. As DC Bruce Robertson puts it, 'Same rules apply.'
We follow our anti hero from the beginnings of a race related murder which Bruce intends to use as a springboard to a well deserved promotion, through the ups and downs of 'polis work', across the waves for a week of drugs and decadent debauchery in Amsterdam, finally steaming towards a conclusion which reveals our narrator for what he really is.
Perhaps the most disturbing thing about this book is that Robertson, despite his vile antics and personal hygeine, establishes and retains a warmth in the readers heart. Or perhaps it is that he is not an individual, that there are others like him with a simular aversion that we rely on to protect and maintain us in our daily lives.
Welsh succeeds in creating a monster, and it is also by his hand and insight into modern society that he slays this monster, reducing him to the pathetic, shadow of a human that he really is. An outstanding achievement.
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on 15 January 1999
Being a Yank, I had to get used to the writing style of Edinburgh vernacular. In the character of Bruce Robertson, Welsh has created the most wretched of main characters. He lies, scams and cheats his way through life but I reckon that is the Welsh way. Welsh has a knack for having his characters scheme and then put the blame on someone else which is interesting as is unfolds. I could not put the book down, well done
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on 17 May 2009
There are lots of reason why not everyone will like this book. Bruce Robertson for the most part, acts in the type of manner befitting a sadistic, emotionally retarded bully whose sexual preferences and work ethic only reinforce this. But there are moments of beauty too in his story.

Irvine Welsh does not pull any punches here, so those with a delicate disposition should be warned. Underneath Bruce's depraved acts however, you begin to get a sense of real pain in this man. Early in the book, that is only hinted at a couple of times by Welsh but it is enough to tell you that there is humanity there. And so you read on, interested to know what might have been the catalyst that made Bruce the man he is when we meet him and what brings him to his denouement.

He's in the middle of a police investigation, one he is straining to keep a hold of but that he needs control over - to protect his own interests, party personal and partly to wangle more overtime. The ever-growing tapeworm in his gut is beginning to have power over him, which weakens him and becomes more a part of him than any other being is allowed. I found the idea of using the tapeworm becoming his conscience to be extremely effective as Bruce is a tired man, tired and haunted - his conscience gives us the background story that Bruce cannot speak of and draws us in further.

Bruce is a brilliant character and unlike other reviewers I did find something in him that made him interesting and redeeming - if only in a purely narrative sense; the hints of the man underneath made me want to reach out to him. His quick sense of humour and his seemingly black & white view of the world are in steep contrast to horrific levels to which he stoops at times. This combined with the thriller plot and local references to Edinburgh, Scotland, the UK and Amsterdam make Filth the most emotional charged and laugh-out-loud book I have read in quite a while. Very glad I read it.
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on 20 July 2000
After the relative disppointments of Acid House and Ecstasy, Irvine Welsh has written a book that is almost as exhilarating, hilarious, enjoyable and expertly structured as Trainspotting. The book initially appears to be a cheap stab at the police by portraying an officer in such a derogitary manner. As you read further you realise this is not the intention at all as Welsh sucks you into Bruce Robinson's conciousness and you actually find youself admiring him in a very twisted and screwed up way. I normally read Welsh novels the day they come out but I have just completed an English Literature degree and thus have been unable to read anything but module texts for the last three years. This could not have been a better welcome into the real world. My love of Trainspotting has remained with me since its publication and I keep a copy by my toilet to pick up and read little bits whenever nature calls. One of the best essays I wrote for my degree was about Irvine Welsh's use of heteroglossia in the said novel. Filth matches up to the genius of his first novel and I implore anyone out there reading this to get your hands on a copy as soon as possible.
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on 17 July 2010
One of my favourite books of all time, and personally speaking Irvine Welsh's masterpiece - and he has done many. Filth wins out for me with its no holds barred lead character Bruce Robertson - this man is one of the nastiest characters ever created in a book - ever bad 'ist' you can be as a person he has certain traits off but he is so well written, the plot so perfectly woven, that you cant help but still laugh at the man and actually continually route for him during his eventual deserved outcome in life. Great moments for me are the conversations with his younger partner Ray Lennox and their music discussions, then hearing his train of thought as he is forced to deal on a daily basis with work colloegues and scum he arrests, not least his own scum filled mind. Part of me feels this character may have been the base of Vic Mackey's character in the Shield, then times it by a hundred towards hell and youve got him down to a tee! If you like Filth then I'd defo advise checking out its sequel of sorts 'Crime' - also completely riveting, following Ray Lennox supposed 'relaxing holiday' stateside.
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