Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written our review of The Bullet Trick by Louise Welsh. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.
Synopsis (from the publisher): Meet William Wilson, a floundering 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. 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.
Review: The Bullet Trick is a stylish, noir thriller in addition to being a character study of one William Wilson, an introverted illusionist performing in modern Berlin.
There are two mysteries that run in parallel in The Bullet Trick. The narrative alternates between two time frames: one set in Berlin and taking place before some life-altering event, and the other set largely in Glasgow and taking place a year after this event. What happened between Berlin and Glasgow that caused such a drastic change in William Wilson is the first mystery.
The second mystery has to do with a missing person. Though often the more interesting storyline, it is less important to the overall plot of the book than the events leading up to the first mystery.
William Wilson isn't the most appealing of characters, but the reader is quickly swept up into his life and cares what happens to him. The alternating time frames help keep the reader's attention on William as he is the only fixed point of reference in the story.
Welsh writes exceedingly descriptive prose which usually makes for atmospheric settings, but at times seems overdone. And though the conclusion is not unexpected, it could have been written more in the noir style of most of the book instead of the somewhat mawkish approach chosen by the author.
Special thanks to Grove Atlantic for providing the ARC of The Bullet Trick for this review.
Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books
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