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  • Published: 18 April 2017
  • ISBN: 9781784700553
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $22.99

The Blade Artist

The most terrifying character in Trainspotting returns - with his own novel

Jim Francis has finally found the perfect life - and is now unrecognisable, even to himself. A successful painter and sculptor, he lives quietly with his wife, Melanie, and their two young daughters, in an affluent beach town in California. Some say he's a fake and a con man, while others see him as a genuine visionary.

But Francis has a very dark past, with another identity and a very different set of values. When he crosses the Atlantic to his native Scotland, for the funeral of a murdered son he barely knew, his old Edinburgh community expects him to take bloody revenge. But as he confronts his previous life, all those friends and enemies - and, most alarmingly, his former self - Francis seems to have other ideas.

When Melanie discovers something gruesome in California, which indicates that her husband's violent past might also be his psychotic present, things start to go very bad, very quickly.

The Blade Artist is an elegant, electrifying novel - ultra violent but curiously redemptive - and it marks the return of one of modern fiction's most infamous, terrifying characters, the incendiary Francis Begbie from Trainspotting.

  • Published: 18 April 2017
  • ISBN: 9781784700553
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $22.99

About the author

Irvine Welsh

Irvine Welsh is the author of eleven previous novels and four books of shorter fiction. He currently lives in Chicago.



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Praise for The Blade Artist

Back to his violent best. Dark, gruesome and captivating.

Sam Parker, Esquire

In a year when filming begins on Danny Boyle's sequel of sorts to Trainspotting, it seems perfect timing to revisit its most visceral force.


It's a thriller in the mode of Tarantino making war films or westerns; hiding grand themes within genre.

Alan Bett, Skinny

An ultra-violent odyssey through the darkest recesses of urban life.

Hot Press

Intense, electrifying. Welsh has delivered a tremendously entertaining book - a whodunit, a thriller, and a probing character study - that's obsessed with conflict, both physical and mental. A surprisingly poignant, evocative read - highly recommended.

Mr Hyde

Welsh's ear for dialect is superb, and the opportunity to observe Edinburgh's dark underbelly from the perspective of someone used to a gentler lifestyle far away leads to shrewd cultural insights.

Mail on Sunday

Welsh may be a reformed character but he's still got it, and The Blade Artist is fab.

Katy Guest, Independent on Sunday

Fans are in for a treat

UK Press Syndication

This Ultra-violent but curiously redemptive new novel is both elegant and electrifying.

Glasgow West End

[Begbie's] intelligence and instinct make him compelling, and Welsh keep the plot roaring along. This is a dark, guilty pleasure and written with - it seems to me - the cinema screen in mind.

Kate Muir, The Times

While Welsh's sense of humour is never far from the surface of his writings.this is very much a work of dark crime fiction rather than comedy or social satire with a touch of James Ellroy.

Hannah McGill, Scotsman

Fast and fizzing, compulsively readable.

Sunday Mirror

Horribly enjoyable

Mail on Sunday

The Blade Artist is lean...clever and propulsive. The shorter length concentrates Welsh's energy. There is a reason people still read him.

Orlando Bird, Daily Telegraph

Unique mix of raw Scots dialect, ultra-violence and sickening social comedy.

WNQ Magazine

Offers biting social commentary and razor-sharp humour.

Keely Bolger, UK Press Syndication

Welsh with his trademark wit and observation unpeels a layer of his character to offer an unsettling glimpse into Begbie's psyche.

Kate Whiting, Herald

The dialogue is zippy, the pace rarely flags and Welsh is excellent on the milieu of the ageing career hard-man.

Private Eye

Maintains his forensic command of the Edinburgh demotic.

Anna Travis, Times Literary Supplement

Welsh shows his hardman character in a new light.

Gloucestershire Echo

Ultimately satisfying.

Irish Independent

Disturbing but also intensely gripping. If you're a fan of intense character studies, you'll kick yourself -violently- if you miss it.

Paul Nolan, Hot Press

Especially intriguing. it's Welsh's prose that gives the story its edge. The language really gets into your head, and you start thinking in Scots, and it's one of the most immersive literary devices I've ever encountered

Felix White-Thomson, Oxford Student


Paul Nolan, Hot Press

No one writes about violence and class with such wit and insight as Welsh. He's a social satirist of the highest order and, with its themes of vengeance and redemption, this is a deceptively comic book with a very dark heart.


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