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Welsh tries diligently to muster his fictional devices, such as switching narrative pronouns from “he” to “you” as Ray's bewildered mind is seen from different angles, but the overall effect is one of lumbering improbability. There are frequent flashbacks to scenes that obsess him (a murdered child's body, his own boyhood degradation by a child molester, family quarrels) but duplication dulls rather than sharpens the effect. Contrasting motifs - Trudi's preoccupation with glossy bridal magazines, Ray's with his wobbly libido - are developed without grace or subtlety. The same overwrought style conveys everyone's sensations and thoughts.
The writing strives for extremes, but relentlessly fails to achieve more than the banal. Injustice “sowed a sickening moral relativism into your psyche”, a poster of the murdered child's eyes “blitzed into the psyche of the British public”, Ray's moments of panic “sting his psyche like a bad curry would his gullet”. Elsewhere, a “dark mood creeps through his veins like a poison”; as Trudi gets angry, she “feels the poison flow through her”; and a paedophile is “transformed by a black venom seeping through his veins”. Ray's “piano-wire nerves” are stretched to their limit; 70 pages later “his nerves are now like piano wire”....Continua