Canongate U.S.
Canongate U.S.
Canongate U.S.

The Bullet Trick

by Louise Welsh

“Delivers both the erotic tingle and the frisson of revulsion some of us feel when exploring a decadent subculture. . . . One of the most exciting new writers in the genre: a gorgeous style . . . and genuine sympathy for the lost souls who have stumbled into an underworld of vice and can’t find their way home.” —Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review

  • Imprint Canongate U.S.
  • Page Count 384
  • Publication Date July 17, 2007
  • ISBN-13 978-1-8419-5917-7
  • Dimensions 5" x 7.75"
  • US List Price $13.00
  • Imprint Canongate U.S.
  • Page Count 384
  • Publication Date August 10, 2006
  • ISBN-13 978-1-8419-5794-4
  • Dimensions 5" x 7.75"
  • US List Price $23.00

About The Book

Crime Writers Association award winner Louise Welsh follows up her hit artworld noir The Cutting Room with a slick literary suspense thriller set among the decadent domains of contemporary Berlin, Glasgow, and London.

In 2003 Louise Welsh’s unique contemporary noir thriller, The Cutting Room, earned her multiple crime-writing awards, as well as praise from the Los Angeles Times (that compared it to the early work of Ian McEwan) and The New York Times Book Review (which called it “a knockout debut”). The Bullet Trick is the full-length follow-up suspense thriller for which her growing audience has been waiting.

Meet William Wilson, a foundering so-called mentalist, conjurer, and above all—despite frequently being the opening act for strippers—a master performer. When his agent books him for a string of cabaret gigs in Berlin, he’s hoping his luck’s on the turn. There were certain spectators from his last show who he’d rather forget, like the one who offered him an easy job just before he turned into a corpse. Among the showgirls and grifters of Berlin’s scandalous underground, Wilson can forget his lonely heart, his muddled head, and, more important, his past. But secrets have a habit of catching up with William and as he gets in over his head with a certain brand of lucrative after-hours work, the line between what’s an act and what’s real starts to blur.

Bringing the seedy glamour of the burlesque scene magnificently to life, Louise Welsh’s deft contemporary tale is her richest and most macabre yet. A thundering thriller of Glasgow drinking dens, Soho clubs, and dark Berlin backstreets, The Bullet Trick is also an adults-only suspense, guaranteed to keep you guessing until its final explosive flourish. It also cements Louise Welsh’s reputation as one of the most exciting young thriller writers working today.


“Delivers both the erotic tingle and the frisson of revulsion some of us feel when exploring a decadent subculture. . . . A few things that make Welsh one of the most exciting new writers in the genre: a gorgeous style that can even capture the surreal beauty of a sleazy club on the bad side of town; a protagonist who maintains a certain innocence as he pursues the more unsavory aspects of his trade; and genuine sympathy for the lost souls who have stumbled into an underworld of vice and can’t find their way home.” —Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review

“Very much a thriller . . . The beauty is in Welsh’s ability to construct a setting with spare, understated prose—a hardboiled patter successfully transplanted from Raymond Chandler’s Los Angeles. . . . The Bullet Trick has a second-act accelerando that Scott Turow would envy. It’s a slam-dunk for the thinking reader’s beach bag.” —Marrit Ingman, Austin Chronicle

“Explores the troubling overlap between entertainment and violence—particularly that toward women . . . Welsh’s style is terse and colloquial, her prose salted with Glaswegian slang. . . . Welsh also practices the art of misdirection, coaxing the reader to think he has guessed the final plot twist, when in fact she has another up her sleeve. Ultimately this book satisfies like a well-executed magic trick, one that, for this reader at least, offered the thrill of surprise.” —Helena Echlin, San Francisco Chronicle

“The word ‘bravura’ seems to have been coined for Louise Welsh. . . . Energy and crackling writing talent . . . Welsh is a literary escape artist of the highest rank.” —Dick Adler, Chicago Tribune

“Does such a good job of evoking the seedy eroticism of Berlin’s cabaret underworld that it’s hard to remember that we aren’t in prewar Germany.” —P.G. Koch, The Houston Chronicle

“[An] irresistible mystery. . . . Readers will keep turning pages to find out what went down in Berlin that destroyed his will to live, what fallout will catch up with William from the London debacle, and whether he will pull himself together to perform again. . . . Great fun. Welsh has a flair for language, a knack for capturing the seediest and sexiest of hotspots, and a convincing male perspective.” —Evelyn Beck, Library Journal

“Author Louise Welsh writes a compelling murder mystery.” —Michael Leonard, Curled Up With A Good Book

“Welsh nails the dialogue perfectly.” —Publishers Weekly

“Welsh . . . is a mistress of misdirection and the plot resembles a hall of mirrors.” —ABC Books (UK)

Praise for Louise Welsh:

The Cutting Room fixes itself among a formidable modern pantheon that includes the novels of Ian McEwan and A. L. Kennedy, films like Trainspotting and the nihilistic comedy of The Office.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Louise Welsh introduces some inventive riders to the . . . law(s) of detective fiction. She isolates her protagonist from the main run of sexual intrigue not by celibacy but rather by preference—he is a gay auction house dealer.” —The Washington Post

The Cutting Room is a remarkable first novel . . . [a] less confident writer might have toned down the foreboding. . . . Welsh heightens it instead, to fantastically gothic effect. It is a rare opportunity to see an accomplished talent in action.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Every line of Tamburlaine Must Die is informed by a thorough grasp of not only the day-to-day of Marlowe’s life but also a sympathetic willingness to imagine the in-between.” —The Nation

Tamburlaine Must Die . . . [is] a hard, sharp little rapier of a thriller/mystery that packs a punishing schedule of sex, violence, wheeling and double-dealing into its brief length. The tension is unabated throughout this frantic, seventy-two-hour dash among backstabbers, spies, murderers and prostitutes. . . . Welsh doesn’t waste a word.” —Publishers Weekly



The aeroplane wheels touched the runway, jerking me awake.

“I envy you, that’s a gift.”

The blonde woman in the next seat smiled. I wiped a hand over my face.


“You slept like the dead all the way from Tegel. You’re lucky, I don’t sleep like that in my own bed.”

Some other time I might have asked how she slept in strangers’ beds, but I kept my smart mouth shut and waited while the pilot bumped us into a smooth landing, just another flight. The seatbelt lights turned off and the business types got to their feet and started pulling their bags from the overhead lockers. A mobile phone chimed awake and a man said, I’ll call you back in ten minutes. I’m on a plane. He laughed. No it’s OK, we’ve landed. My insomniac neighbour stood up and I slipped my equipment case from under the seat in front.

It felt heavy, but I’d added nothing to it in Berlin, except for the envelope packed tight with bank notes that I hadn’t bothered to count.

The queue of passengers edged along the aisle then down the metal staircase and onto the tarmac. No one kissed the runway. I pulled my coat close and kept my eyes on the ground.

A long line of luggage lurched along the carousel but I’d left my broken suitcase along with its contents in a hotel room in Berlin.

The taxi-rank controller was bundled against the weather in a fluorescent jacket that looked regulation issue and an old checked bunnet that didn’t. He slammed the cab door on the safely settled traveller in front then turned to me.

“Where to?”


He smiled patiently, a man used to jet-lag and bad English, and asked, “Where in Glasgow son?”

“City centre.”

He wrote something on his clipboard saying, “That’ll do.” And waved one of the white cabs forward.

The driver asked the same question that his supervisor had. This time I said, “Do you know anywhere I could rent a bedsit in the city centre?”

He looked at me in the rear-view mirror, seeing the same face I’d splashed cold water on only minutes before in the gents. A nondescript face with a hard cleft in the centre of its brow that might suggest ruthlessness or worry, but nothing that would make me stand out in a crowd.

I said, “There’ll be a bung in it for you.”

And he swung the taxi out of the airport, down into Glasgow and towards the Gallowgate.

I sat in the back and closed my eyes, wondering how I’d got myself into this mess and what lay in store for me in the city I used to call home.