A critical consensus has built up over the years that there is Good Irvine Welsh and there is Bad Irvine Welsh. Good Irvine encompasses such generation-defining works as Trainspotting, The Acid House and Filth, while Bad Irvine covers such sloppy, repetitive, self-parodic novels as A Decent Ride and the many sequels and prequels to Trainspotting. His 2008 novel Crime, which follows the exploits of Edinburgh detective Ray Lennox as he hunts down paedophiles in Florida, was definitely Good Irvine, with its contorted moral dilemmas, fast-paced action and rich characterisation. Recently adapted into a television drama, Crime was the first part of a proposed trilogy centred on Lennox. The Long Knives is the second instalment. It’s definitely Good Irvine.
We meet Lennox again following a bravura opening scene in which a Tory MP is tied to a chair in a warehouse, brutally castrated and left to bleed out. When Lennox is assigned the case, he’s living on his own in a Victorian Edinburgh tenement, still engaged to