First review of Welsh’s new novel from The Guardian:
Irvine Welsh is in a class of his own. Whatever the flaws of his books, they have a seething life in them that rivets attention and an inventiveness with story and language that continually amuses and amazes. The elaborate choreography of his predators and victims as they circle each other through the bars, offices and “fitba” terraces of Edinburgh seems powered by inexhaustibly rich reserves of desire, rage, guilt and scabrous humour.
The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs may not be his best novel (parts of it are not very good at all), but it shares the same roiling chorus of hard men, wee hoors, old jakeys and biddies as its predecessors, builds with the same logic of escalating perversity, and leaves one with the same reeling sensation of having got quite a bit more than one’s money’s worth.
The hero is Danny Skinner, a restaurant inspector for the Edinburgh council. Good-looking, ambitious, cleverer than anyone around him (he reads Schopenhauer between drink and drug binges with his mates), he’s a type at which Welsh excels: the slick chancer whose prospects are imperilled only by his own self-destructive appetites and impulses.
The explanation offered for the latter is his mother’s refusal to tell him who his father is; a mystery that propels half the action of the book. The other, more interesting, half is set in motion by the appearance of a teetotal virgin, Brian Kibby, who attends Star Trek conferences and plays childish videogames. Kibby gets a job at the restaurant inspectorate, entering Skinner’s derisive orbit in the unfortunate possession of a toy train, purchased on his way into work. Almost immediately he awakens a demonic hatred in Skinner. The two find themselves in competition for the same office promotion, and the old dance begins.