To The Dogs by Louise Welsh

To The Dogs by Louise Welsh

Louise Welsh has a way of presenting a slightly seedier side of life, and To The Dogs is no different. Taking place in a world of higher education, our protagonist Jim Brennan is doing well. A high achiever in terms of bringing in money to the university, his career looks to be heading from strength to strength, and he’s hoping to pull together funding from a former student to get a new building in place.

But his life is about to spiral out of his control.

First of all, his wayward son gets arrested, and the solicitor he gets hold of to help them seems to be very au fait with the seedier side of gangland. In China, one of his students has gone missing, and Jim isn’t paying as much attention to one of his PhD students as he might.

Welsh pulls together the realities of modern-day academia, with its incessant reliance on wealthy overseas students paying for everything, and a general “don’t ask too many questions” attitude towards where the money is coming from, with the grimness of gangs and organised crime. It all feels far too real, and Welsh writes believably about this world.

But there’s a dark vein of humour running all the way through this book, so it’s not entirely bleak. And some of the bumbling nocturnal activities are laugh-out-loud funny. The dodgy lawyer’s “football team” – always on hand to help out, for example.

I always enjoy a new Louise Welsh title and this is no exception. Thoroughly recommended!

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC.