The third in Peace's series of dark and dirty police thrillers, set in West Yorkshire and definitely the best so far. Covering the year in which the Yorkshire Ripper was at last apprehended, the novel adheres very closely to the facts of the case, going back in great detail over all of the Ripper's killings. Peace changes the names of the victims, some of the locations (but not all) and the identities of people most involved in the case. George Oldfield, becomes George Oldman, Peter Sutcliffe becomes Peter Williams. Oldfield's fixation on the Ripper tape and a man with a Geordie accent is covered, as are the details of many of Sutcliffe's crimes, his modus operandi and his background as a lorry driver.
There is an over-reliance, as in the other books in this series, on a kind of lyrical frenzy for effect, but this time it seems at least partly justified. As anyone who lived through the "Ripper years" could testify, the shock and disbelief as the killings mounted leant a kind of hyper-reality to the fall of night, especially towards the end of the series of murders, when Sutcliffe was as likely to murder a woman nipping to the shops as a prostitute plying her trade.
There is less gratuitous obscenity in this third book, perhaps because the reality of these obscene crimes renders it redundant. The main protagonist is another copper - and the background of corruption and cynicism is ever-present, but this time it seems muted. Perhaps not every copper in the force is bent?
The Ripper denied doing some of the murders the police had him down for, and in this novel Peace pins them on a corrupt copper. Suicides are abundant, cover-ups just par for the course. It is a dark, disturbing vision of the business of being a detective in the English police force. Having read this book, one could be forgiven for eyeing every policeman with dread and suspicion.