Thursday, 11 May 2017

"The Blade Artist" by Irvine Welsh

Year of Publication:  2016
Number of Pages:  273 pages
Genre:  Crime

The brutal, violent, alcoholic thug Frank Begbie has terrorized the streets of his native Edinburgh for decades.  However now it appears as if the unthinkable has happened:  Frank Begbie has straightened out and cleaned up.  Having seemingly renounced his violent past, Begbie is now a successful artist, living in California under the name of Jim Francis, with a beautiful wife and two young daughters.  Until he learns that his estranged son, Sean, who Begbie barely knew, has been savagely murdered.  Returning to Scotland for the funeral, Begbie sets out to find his son's killer.  As he finds himself among his old Edinburgh, surrounded by old friends and enemies, Begbie finds his past violently catching up with him.      

First appearing in Irvine Welsh's 1993 debut novel Trainspotting, and memorably played by Robert Carlyle in the 1996 film adaptation and it's sequel T2: Trainspotting, Frank Begbie is one of Welsh's most popular characters, appearing in several other books.  However, this is the first time that he has been the lead character in a novel, and there is the problem of having a hugely popular supporting character becoming the lead, and it does dilute the character's impact.  It's entertaining enough, but there are no real surprises, the central murder mystery is not particularly engaging.  It's funny though and moves along at a good pace.    

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