From the very first page of David Peace's first novel, 1974
, it soon becomes clear that something is rotten in the state of Yorkshire: a young girl is missing.
The Yorkshire Post's young but disillusioned crime correspondent, Edward Dunford, is assigned to the story, while juggling the recent death of his father and the return to his native Yorkshire after a brief, unsuccessful stint in Fleet Street. For the jaded Dunford, it's just another story; the only intrigue is whether or not the girl will be found dead or alive before Christmas. That is, until the girl is discovered brutally murdered, face down in a ditch with a pair of swan's wings sewn into her back.
As Dunford follows the case, he begins to make a series of terrifying connections with a string of child murders, plunging him into a gut-wrenching nightmare of corruption, violence, sadism, blackmail and sexual obsession--from the upper echelons of local government to the tacky heart of Yorkshire darkness.
As Peace's tale of corruption and conspiracy unravels, it becomes clear that 1974 is as influenced by Orwell's own bleak vision of Britain in 1984 as it is by the wonderfully evoked atmosphere of the mid- 70s. The Bay City Rollers, Leeds United, It Ain't Half Hot Mum and Vauxhall Viva's all make an appearance. The novel works at several levels, from the brilliantly unsentimental homecoming of the gifted, alienated northern son, to a terrifyingly accurate portrayal of an insular, tribal community. The plot is complex and frenetic and Peace often leaves strands untied, especially as he builds to an extremely powerful climax. Yet the dialogue is fast, witty and violent; a must read for fans of Yorkshire Gothic. -- Jerry Brotton
--This text refers to an alternate
The slow-burning, word-of-mouth success story of British publishing... These four books recreated the pervasive sense of terror and corruption with a hammering, semi-magical style loosely reminiscent of James Ellroy, but steeped in something far more bleak and English... the evil twin of Life On Mars... Peace may have succeeded in creating an enduring literature for a curiously undocumented area of Britain (Justin Quirk Guardian Guide
Bleakly brilliant (Radio Times
Compelling (Sunday Times
He's in a class of his own in terms of ambition. He's trying to write these alternative histories of events we know quite well in a challenging way. The fact that he's dealing with very English subjects from Japan is very interesting (Alex Clark editor of Granta Magazine
A British crime master work. Required reading... (Maxim
Original, difficult, brilliant (Observer
Haunting evocations of 70s and 80s Yorkshire - interlinking tales of very fallible coppers, very noir hacks, very human killers (Euan Ferguson Observer
Singular and memorable (Ian Jack Guardian