In his latest opus, Welsh takes on the world of restaurants, which, as anyone familiar with Anthony Bourdain knows, is only barely removed from Welsh's accustomed territory of drug-using young people with shallow vision, limited possibilities, and stunted vocabulary. Instead of a chef, Welsh has chosen as his protagonist a restaurant inspector whose life takes him out of Edinburgh to San Francisco. Danny Skinner seeks the identity of his father, hoping that that this knowledge will help him make better sense of his life and somehow save him from his uncontrollable obsessions with hard liquor and wild women. Brian Kibby, Skinner's professional colleague yet his opposite in so many other ways, stands for attitudes and aspirations that enrage Skinner. American readers will find Welsh's extensive, unrelenting recording of Scottish dialect and other British patois a barrier to comprehension without aid of an accompanying glossary. Welsh has a remarkable gift for setting and for dialogue, as long as the reader can stomach ubiquitous, unrelenting repetition of vulgarities. Mark Knoblauch
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