In her debut novel, “The Cutting Room,” Scottish writer Louise Welsh tackles a very nasty subject without provoking a trace of moral queasiness in the reader. Welsh’s subject is snuff porn, one that has been used for both moralistic condemnations of the sex trade and, in the guise of moralism, to provide readers with a sick turn-on. It’s to Welsh’s credit that she never once lingers on the subject pruriently. She never uses it to excite us.
In recent books, writers like Stephen King and Val McDermid have been addressing the question of where novelists and readers become culpable in the suffering of victims. Welsh can hold her head up. There isn’t a moment in “The Cutting Room” where she crosses that line.