Number of pages: 420
The latest book by Irvine Welsh comes directly after his previous book, The Blade Artist, this time with Welsh returning to all four of his original characters. Only, this time the reader is told that one of them is going to die in this book.
At the start of the book, Renton meets Begbie on a plane; after the endings of previous books, you'd expect things not to go well, but the outcome is completely different than you might expect; Renton panics and locks himself in the bathroom, but Begbie starts acting nice, far from the psychopathic character from the earlier books.
From here, we find out what the characters are doing with their lives; Renton is managing DJs; Begbie is facing some repurcussions from the previous novel, which mostly involve him getting effectively stalked by a cop; Sick Boy is having to deal with the fact that his brother-in-law has been kicked out of the house; Spud is involved in illegal organ trading.
The plotlines gradually dovetail into each other, and the writing style is identical to that seen in most of the previous books, with several chapters narrated by the characters and written in a thick Scottish brogue, although this time around Irvine Welsh does set out who the narrator is each time, making the book slightly easier to follow.
Drugs also featured again, and this time Irvine Welsh chose to do something a bit different, so for all the trippy parts the style of the book changed from prose to graphic novel style. I quite liked the way he did this, as it was good as illustrating how the characters were seeing "lego dwarves". I was not sure if Irvine Welsh had done the illustrations himself, but the main characters even looked like the actors who portrayed them in the films.
I noticed there was the usual mixture of drama and blackly comedic moments; the funniest moment involved Spud on a train. I saw a quite negative review of this, but the only problem I had was that at times I could see the plot twists coming before they happened. It was quite easy to guess that Begbie would eventually turn violent (he does; this was too predictable).
As for the death, it was surprisingly underplayed; I wondered if I should feel cheated by this, but then I remembered that the death in the original book was handled in just the same way.
Thinking about it...
Considering that the character who gets bumped off is Spud, who is suddenly said to have died of a heart attack, after getting ill as a result of having one of his own kidneys removed, I probably wouldn't have wanted him to die in some unpleasant, violent manner. The way he got written out seemed about right.
I am not sure if Irvine Welsh intends to write another book; some things were left hanging, and I can certainly imagine a sequel being written, possibly focusing on one particular character (you'll probably guess which one when you get to the end).
Next book: Platform Seven (Louise Doughty)