Food (along with drugs and alcohol) has always played an important role in Irvine Welsh’s fiction. One of the many ways in which he emphasises the class divide between his characters is through diet. The most unpleasant scene in Trainspotting described a waitress taking revenge on unpleasant patrons in a posh restaurant by doctoring their dishes in innovative ways, and in his fifth book, Filth, he combined a specific description of every last service-station snack consumed by his policeman protagonist with the unruly observations of the supernaturally sensitive tapeworm that roomed in his oversized gut. So when Welsh announced in pre-publication interviews that his new book would be called The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs, it seemed likely that the novel would be a satirical look at the middle-class obsession with food. But aside from a small role for a celebrity chef, and a (perhaps surprising) brief appreciation of Anthony Bourdain’s connection of cooking with punk rock, the title turns out to be a red herring.
Instead, this is another novel driven by Welsh’s preoccupation with the ways in which men establish a pecking-order and the almost romantic relationship between male bully and male victim. Twenty-something Danny Skinner and his colleague Brian Kibby both work for the Environmental Health Office of the Edinburgh City