THE BULLET TRICK by Louise Welsh (Harper Collins), 363 pages, $29.95 cloth. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Scottish mystery writer Louise Welsh's new novel, The Bullet Trick, is all about illusion, about leading the audience's eyes to what you want them to see. And like the best tricksters, Welsh is in complete control.
Glasgow conjuror William Wilson has long since abandoned the idea of reaching the top of his profession. After working the British club circuit for seven years opening for comedians, he's going through a dry spell. So when his agent gets him a gig at a police retirement party, he's only too happy to have the money.
But there's a wee job on the side for William, one that relies more on his pickpocketing than his magic skills, and it looks to be his only hope of clearing up some pressing IOUs from the dog races.
Things don't go as planned, and the magician gets himself into a bind even Houdini couldn't get out of. While he's rehearsing his next move, a job offer in Berlin materializes. It's just in time to save his skin, and it might give him the chance to work up a new act and change his luck.
Welsh shuffles the action back and forth from a threadbare bedsit in Glasgow's Gallowgate to London's seedy after-hours clubs and the "erotique" cabarets of Berlin, where William's desire to wow his audience draws him into a different kind of act. Though he knows all too well that our eyes can play tricks on us, he proves just as willing to believe as the rest of us.
William Wilson is a true Glasgow son cheeky, hard-drinking, soft of heart and The Bullet Trick is dead brilliant.