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3.4 out of 5 stars96
3.4 out of 5 stars
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on 31 January 2004
I like my crime black as night and completely fearless. 1974 delivers not only great crime, just the way I like it, but great literature. Peace has redefined the crime novel.( I've heard this said many times as a crime afficianado, but in this case it really is true) Generally in crime novels bad things happen in an (essentially) good place. Someone then sets out to make things right. In 1974, the whole world (Yorkshire) is bad and NOTHING can set it right. The truth has to be squeezed out (and I don't use this cliche lightly) like blood from a stone. In Peace's world, the facts are profoundly disturbing and the emotions surrounding them are worse. Morality is virtually non-existent and what there is brings about only brutal survival. This is indeed a Godless universe, and visiting it through these pages truly gives a glimpse of hell. Peace has to be admired for his courage and his unflinching gaze into the abyss. It is troubling to read, what was it like to WRITE. Just to see the author's name - PEACE - after having read this book reminds you how far from peace this time and place are (were).
1974 is the first book of the red riding quartet (1974,1977,1980,1983) and cannot truly be appreciated (good as it is) without finishing the quartet. While a liitle rougher, and not quite as tight as the following three books, 1974 has a raw urgency and ends(?) with a lot of unanswered questions. Questions that are answered, or rather confronted and dissected in the following three books. 1974 lights the fuse,and then the bombs start falling. Woe to the reader with a weak constitution. Once read, these books will NEVER be forgotten
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on 12 February 2003
You won't forget this one in a hurry.
Serpent's Tail consistently put out top class work, and this is no exception.
Bleak, dark, sickeningly violent, horribly believable, populated by characters who are for the most part doomed, it's never an easy ride. Finishing this book genuinely gave me the feeling of coming up for air, and ever since I have had the contradictory feelings of wishing I hadn't read it, but being glad I had. I will be reading other books in the quartet, but not too soon.
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VINE VOICEon 25 July 2009
I must admit that I didn't enjoy "1974" as much as David Peace's other novels such as the excellent "The Damned United" and the original "GB84". This was mainly because I couldn't identify with the main character ,the crime correspondent for a Yorkshire newspaper, Edward Dunsford. He was a blaze of intensity and fearlessness driving around West Yorkshire like a maniac copulating with women, drinking heavily and getting into fights. He certainly put the "investigative" into "investigative reporter". I found him not to be a credible character. The story revolves around the murder of a young girl and Dunsford's piecing together of a web of corruption surrounding this event. The dialogue and action is earthy to say the least and at times it was hard to keep up with all of the new characters introduced by the author."1974" is like a rough and not as well written version of one of Ian Rankin's "Rebus" books.
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on 17 January 2002
Taken together with its successors '77 and '84 David Peace's (to date) trilogy drives a bloody smear right through the already-blurred boundaries seperating recent British current affairs and literary 'faction' (as best illustrated by Westography 'Happy as Murderers'). Effortlessly interlaces a feral, truncheon-happy plod with one of the best-known yet least-well depicted demons of the late Twentieth Century, metered against the almost touching innocence of those who think they can stand up and exist in their own right. Read, despair, regret having read, then re-evaluate.
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on 10 February 2003
When it comes to crime fiction, I like it bleak, nasty and nihilistic (makes my own problems seem less overwhelming somehow) but nothing could have prepared me for 'Nineteen Seventy Four' by David Peace. A bleaker, nastier and more nihilistic novel you'd be hard-pressed to find. This book is disturbing to the point of insanity, sickening to the point of physical nausea. Not just because of the harrowing plot and relentlessly graphic detail, either - but because somebody actually dreamed it up in the first place!
I know a work of art should stand alone, independent of its creator, and there's no doubt that 'Nineteen Seventy Four' does that. This is noir at its most brutal and thought-provoking. But I couldn't help wondering about its author. What kind of hard-boiled nutcase is David Peace, to come up with such a book - the closest thing to literary hell this side of James Ellroy's 'Silent Terror'? I guess there's always the chance he's a sweet-natured, peace-loving, vegetarian optimist... but I wouldn't stake my life on it.
'Nineteen Seventy Four' takes the reader on a frenetic and brutal trip through the corrupt underbelly of Yorkshire society in the mid-seventies. An era of dodgy music and TV, and even dodgier fashion- not to mention bent cops, drunks, freaks, desperados, and crimes so heinous they defy belief. Bang smack in the middle of it all is Eddie Dunford, a young but jaded crime journo assigned to background research on a series of gruesome murders, whilst his nemesis Jack Whitehead - Crime Reporter of the Year - basks in the headlining glory. Still grieving over his father's recent death, and plagued by a plethora of personal demons that are never fully explained, Eddie soon finds himself caught in a criminal conspiracy from which the only escape-route leads straight to the abyss.
The book's first-person perspective allows the reader intimate access to Eddie's consciousness, experiencing his slide from bitter and disillusioned, to downright despairing and hopeless. One could be forgiven for mistaking him for a bad guy - he's a violent, dirty, womanising bastard, and only qualifies as a hero of sorts because most of the other characters' kinks and perversions make his own seem mild in comparison. But his narration is compelling, confronting - and ultimately moving. At times Peace's prose style reaches a poetic kind of fever pitch, heightening our sense of Eddie's internal delirium, and creating surprising beauty amidst the ugliness and misery.
Cliched though it may sound, this book had me in a stranglehold from the first page - and still hasn't released me, weeks after finishing the damn thing! It's that powerful. Hopefully, writing this review will help get it out of my system...
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on 18 September 1999
From the first page to the last, this book puts a hand inside your chest, takes a hold of your heart and will not let go. Set in the dark winter of 1974, it's the powerful and harrowing tale of Eddie Dunford, North of England Crime Correspondent for the Yorkshire Post, and his investigation into the disappearances of three local schoolgirls. During the hellish course of this ninety mile an hour novel, Eddie also becomes embroiled in local council corruption and a doomed romance with the mother of one of the missing girls. Brilliantly evoking the Yorkshire of 1974, Peace's work has been compared to James Ellroy and Raymond Chandler; add to that the ghosts of George Orwell (1984) and Ted Lewis (Get Carter), mix in The Exorcist and A Clockwork Orange and you're almost there. It's also the first of a Quartet. Bring on 1977.
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on 28 March 2009
After seeing channel 4's adaptaton - I had to read it. I thought the first episode was the best, and the story was brilliant. I'm from Yorkshire - I knew it was no tourist ad, more like, 'stay away from the north, we'll kill you.' I'm a 17 year old girl, so the story was quite an eyeopener, the language was foul, the violence bloodthirsty. I fell in love with eddie dunford and sean bean. But it was nothing compared to the book. As an AS level English Lit student, I appreciate the way in which people write. Peace captures the sheer repulsive nature of eddie dunford, who I no longer find an attractive character. Channel 4 have changed the story, in parts its not recognisable, but they've captured moments brilliantly. So if you're expecting the channel 4 retell, beware - its more violent and ripe in language than ever, which is why I'm not going to read the other 3 - this was enough. I felt like I'd had an experience after I read it, you get so connected to the character, the descriptions are vivid, and the narration is fantastic. This book is really on of a kind! I wouldn't say its for the feinthearted - some people may be disgusted by the content and put it down by page 20 - but I read it in 2 days, couldn't put it down. Give it a try and you won't be disappointed!
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Set in Leeds, in the run up to Christmas 1974, this novel is full of anything but Christmas cheer. Edward Dunford is the North of England crime correspondent on the Yorkshire Post - desperate to make his name and always coming second to veteran reporter Jack Whitehead, a man on easy terms with both the police and court personnel. The story begins during a conference at a police station, asking for information on missing ten year old Clare Kemplay. After the conference, Dunford rushes to the funeral of his father and, in many ways, the entire book is like that opening chapter. This is noir at it's darkest, with Edward Dunford chasing leads amongst a cynical population, where the police are corrupt and the 'good guys' only less marginally violent than the criminals.

It is soon apparent that Dunford is in far over his head. A story he had previously covered about the 'Ratcatcher', that by a colleague about building regulations, missing schoolgirls, a missing rugby player and gangsters collide in a frenetic and utterly compelling storyline. This is a world of pub toilets, office banter, physical attacks and, more than anything, the loss of three little girls. It is fair to say that none of the characters are particularly likeable, even our 'hero' Dunford - whose search for the truth owes as much to his career as his desire to find the truth, especially at the beginning of the book, and who is not even thoughtful towards the two women who is linked to. However, if you like your crime realistic, violent, fast paced and hard hitting, it is fair to say that you will like this. I intend to take a deep breath before embarking on book two Red Riding Nineteen Seventy Seven: Red Riding Quartet.
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on 8 May 2012
I've heard '1974' being described as like reading a scream. I know exactly where that's coming from. Peace's narrative is intense, visceral, gritty, dark, unrelenting and unsettling. It is very tightly written and through the flair and style of the prose, the contextual framing, and the palpable sense of realism, it produces a powerful affective response from the first page. If anyone is looking for the ultimate noir, then 1974 must be near the top of the pile. The story is a long way from horror, and none of the scenes are particularly horrific, but I nevertheless found it a difficult read at times, simultaneously feeling senses of compulsion and revulsion. It's one of those strange books or movies that draws you in at the same time as pushing you away. I read it in several sittings and found it emotionally draining. The end unravels a little, becoming a bit disjointed (much like the main character). Nevertheless 1974 is a brilliant piece of writing, but it's not for the faint hearted.
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on 7 July 2014
Atmospheric but ultimately disappointing. The lazy trick of making every sentence a paragraph pads out the pages, but judders the narrative forward like a stalling car.

As for the plot – well by the 75% mark (I read this on Kindle) Peace has well and truly lost it. Who did what to whom ? By the end we don’t care about Dunford, we’ve almost forgotten about the girls, and we can’t really work out who killed them anyway.

The reason I came to this book was because of Julian Jarrold and Tony Grisoni’s superb TV adaptation ‘Red Riding'. Grisoni’s screenplay is a lesson in How to Do It Properly: if Peace had clarified the character structure the way Grisoni did, the book would have been immeasurably better. Peace’s book loses all tension at the end because the relationship between the bad guys is simply too complex for his writing to sustain. Grisoni slices away all the unnecessary characterisation and comes up with a denouement that resonates far, far longer than the novel. A rare case of the TV script being superior to the original novel.

If you haven’t seen his adaptation, take a look and tell me why I’m wrong.
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