Ray Lennox is a cop and he is on holiday in Florida, ostensibly to patch things with his fiancee, plan a wedding and recover from the emotional fall-out a recent case has created. The recent case involves a particularly heinous crime by a man dubbed as “the confectioner”. It is quite obvious that Ray has serious unresolved issues, and these go way back to his childhood. His current relationship is threatened and undermined by these issues.
The holiday brings the relationship into sharp focus and Ray ends up being adrift and alone in Miami. Due to an unfortunate chance meeting, he ends up on a coke and booze fuelled binge. As a result of this, he ends up taking charge of a 10 year old girl.
This book is part road trip, part crime novel, part indictment on society and an exploration of what is and is not acceptable and how our past can shape our present. Welsh takes the opportunity to groom you into the seedy world of paedophilia and he does not skimp on the details. The horrors and damage are very evident within the characters portrayed. Although predatory paedophiles are rare, and this is pointed out, the abject depravity of their world is brought out into the light. This is not a pretty book to read.
The characters are superbly written and Welsh gets right to the heart of the subject. Ray is on a classic redemptive character arc, leaving us with an ending where we can at least say “well, it could have been worse”.
There is so much else to unpack, that you could write nearly as much again as was in the book. This was the first book I had read by Welsh and one of the most absorbing I have read for a long time. I literally couldn’t put it down.