If you are thinking of reading this novel, the chances are you have already read the first two novels in the Red Riding Quartet: Red Riding Nineteen Seventy Four (Red Riding Quartet) and Red Riding Nineteen Seventy Seven: Red Riding Quartet. They do have many interweaving characters and this book will make little sense if you have not read those before, but if you have then rest assured that this is every bit as dark and atmospheric as the earlier books.
The third in the quartet has Assistant Chief Constable Peter Hunter asked to head a taskforce to look into the Ripper investigation. It is, as the football fans ironically cheer at games, "Ripper 13, police 0" and Hunter handpicks his team with care. George Oldham, meanwhile, has no idea he is to be replaced in a case which has become intensely personal for him and, it is fair to say, that Peter Hunter's contibution is not welcomed by the local force.
Peter Hunter is a man who already has a personal interest in the case and whose garden shed is covered with photo's of the Ripper's victims. As his wife suffers miscarriage after miscarriage and the terrible loss of being childless weighs on her, the author cleverly conveys the way the desire for a child can take over your life. Hunter himself feels he has made himself a bargain - if he stops the Ripper, they will have a child. Meanwhile, this is set in December 1980 - the news is dominated by the murder of John Lennon, of terrorist hostages and Thatcher. Driving back and forth between Leeds and Bradford, Hunter drives over the moors, imagining the victims of the Moors Murders. Crime fiction doesn't come much darker than this.
As Hunter begins his investigation, names appear from previous books that you will be familiar with, including Jack Whitehead and murder victims such as Janice Ryan, which earlier characters felt were not committed by the Ripper. Suddenly, the body count is rising and Peter Hunter finds himself being turned upon by those who should be aiding his investigation. It is hard to see how the author could make this gritty series any harsher, but I look forward to reading the finale in the final book Red Riding Nineteen Eighty Three: Red Riding Quartet. For those who like their crime books firmly set in reality, this sordid and violent tale of police corruption and murder will surely hit the mark.
David Peace has carved himself a niche in contemporary English fiction, by taking real events and turning them into intensely personal and disturbing narratives. In the process he has proved himself to be a stylish and highly distinctive writer. True, his work can be an acquired taste and at times veers into the obscure, but there aren't many writers at work today who have such a personally developed voice.
1980 is the third part of his acclaimed Red Riding Quartet, set in the north of England between 1974 and 1983. Like the books before it, 1980 is set in a world of corruption and violence, and like the previous two installments features a protagonist struggling with the horror of the reality before him whilst battling his own personal demons.
Peter Hunter is an Assistant Chief Constable in Manchester, sent over to Leeds to ostensibly help in the search for the Yorkshire Ripper, but also to critically study the investigations that have gone before.
As in all of the quartet a familiar cast of characters weave in and out of the plot, Bob Craven, The Dawson family, Maurice Jobson, Jack Whitehead, and their actions in the first two books have repercussions here.
Anyone who has read 1974 and 1977 will recognise the frenetic pace, the intensity of the internal monologue and the visceral, violent subject matter. This, more than the others can stand alone as a piece of fiction. Although it would help to have an understanding of the whole set you could pick this novel up and appreciate it as a singular novel.
To me though, this is the most accomplished out of 1974, 1977 and 1980. Peace seems more in control of his style and story than in the previous books. While he has maintained the hallucinatory style there is more clarity to the subject matter, and although this is not an easy read it is certainly more so than its predecessors. 1977 in particular suffered in this respect, having two narrators and a lack of differentiation between their voices.
1980 feels more restrained, if you could ever refer to Peace's work as restrained. His trademark repetition is used to a brilliant effect, particularly in the breathless, exhilarating finale. In the final third of the book, where his style usually obliterates the content, he expertly crafts a series of twists that never seem contrived, but instead clarify and justify that which has come before.
I finished this book with my jaw on the table and if you are unsure about reading it after struggling through 1974 and 1977, I would strongly urge you to do so. This is a whisker away from being a masterpiece.
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.
on 1 March 2009
I'm new to Peace's writing and started with The Damned United which is a great book whether you are a football fan or not. I picked up '1980' at the library and read it in a few days. They staccato prose will be familiar to readers of the Damned United. He uses this effectively to get inside the head of his main character, Hunter- a policeman sent to review the Yorkshire Ripper case of the 70s when it was floundering.
I've not read the earlier parts of this trilogy 1974 and 1977 and there were obviously references to these books and characters here that meant I probably didnt appreciate all plot links. My fault not his, and the book stands alone anyway. Its a fascinating look at police courruption as well as being hugely evocative of time and place. The dialogue is very convincing and the claustrofobia and paranoia keep you turning the page.
His style is unique and very effective. Perhaps because you feel you are in the head of Hunter where repetition is used to give an authenticity to the nature of his fears and worries and to heighten anxiety. He doesnt shirk from the violence and the details and full horror of the attacks is given due focus. The emotional impact of the attacks on the women are also conveyed in heartbreakingly understated ways - 'mummy' being crayoned on the purse of one victim; the opening to each chapter gives us an eerie glimpse into the mind of the both the ripper and to the last moments of some of the victims. An appreciation of the darkness and the sadness of the lives lead by many of these women is in danger of being drowned out by the violence at the core of this novel - but it's there - and thats one of the things I like about Peace's work, no matter how bleak it is, he tries to give us a glimpse of the humanity.
I will be chasing up the earlier books and 1983 asap, might have to tape the upcoming TV series on C4 and watch it later.
on 25 July 2008
unfortunately, due to my impatience with hackney libraries' reservation service, i read the quartet in the wrong order, skipping out '77 and eventually reading it after the rest. i'll admit to being a little confused at first, jumping straight to this one after '74, but on balance, i would definitely say it's the best of the four. i do intend to re-read them all in the correct order at some point; i would say '80 stands up extremely well on its own, but i would recommend reading them all.
i don't want to trot out the same "dark", "ultra-noir" cliches, but peace's portrayal of society in 1980, a mere four years before i was born, seems like a different world to the one i grew up in. i only knew the vaguest of details about the yorkshire ripper before reading the quartet, but now, having read a little more into the subject, peace's seemless blending of fact and fiction in the novels seems very impressive.
peace's fractured prose style perfectly complements his subject matter, and the "transmissions" at the beginning of each chapter are a wonderful kind of black poetry.
it's fantastic to see this genre of literature adopted and adapted into something so original yet quintessentially english.
on 17 May 2009
The third volume in David Peace's quartet moves forward to 1980 and focuses on the character of Peter Hunter, the senior police officer investigating the actions of the police investigating the case of the Yorkshire Ripper but Hunter himself falls under suspicion when one of his friends is arrested and his wife comes under threat. Like the previous two novels this is a journey into the recent past, depicted in all its bloody violence. Peace brings the motives and actions of all characters into question, his descriptions of the sadistic attacks almost unbearably graphic. The characters who move in and out of this world are strange figures and the reader can never be sure who is telling the truth and who can be trusted. It is written at a compelling pace and leaves you uncertain which questions have been answered.
on 15 October 2001
Peace's Red Riding Quartet is rapidly turning from The British Crime Series into the best British Quartet ever, regardless of genre. I have never read anything quite like it. Each book is different from the last and they just get better and better. Nineteen Seventy Four was full on,in yer face Ultra Noir, Seventy Seven was like Dickens imagining Ellroy in an opium dream. And Eighty, well you just want to read the first so-called Transmission. From the British Ellroy to the New Dante in two books. This man is our best writer, period. Read him.
on 7 September 2011
This book mixes fact and fiction and follows the fortunes of a policeman in the hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper, a maniac who killed at least 13 women in the north of England between the mid-1970s and 1980.
It is presented in a breathless style - much of it in dialogue with lots of stream of consciousness, swear words, nightmares, flashbacks, song lyrics, tape recordings, italics and CAPITAL LETTERS just in case you don't get the point that this is a rollercoaster ride we are on.
The story is made more complicated by the fact that the policeman has been brought in from Manchester to investigate the inept performance of the Yorkshire police who have not only failed to catch the killer but been led on a wild goose chase by the infamous hoax tape by a man who claimed to be the Ripper.
Some of the Yorkshire police are also seen to be corrupt as well as incompetent and the hunt for the Ripper is taking place amidst mistrust and hatred among the police themselves.
As if that was not enough, our hero's attempts to become a father have come to nothing and his wife is in a desperate state after suffering a series of miscarriages.
The whole novel is set in grimy place like Leeds, Wakefield and Manchester as the hero drives backwards and forwards across the Moors (where, of course, the infamous murders carried out by Ian Brady and Mira Hindley in the 1960s occurred). On top of that, it is always raining or snowing, cold and dark.
The bodies of the murdered victims, mainly prostitutes, pile up and are described in horrific detail. Other murders and suicides also feature just in case the reader feels cheated of corpses.
This book is not exactly light reading. I thought it went over the top but this is the style the author has adopted in several other books sets covering real events in the same way, including the miners' strike of 1984.
Having said that, it is good to see a writer trying to set a new style and be different.
on 26 October 2002
David Peace's hallucinatory, horrific Yorkshire crime novels become darker and deeper by the volume. His psychological landscape is dominated by the Yorkshire Ripper, who terrorised the North of England through the late seventies and early eighties; Peace shows the police hunting him to be only half a step less psychologically damaged than the man they're trying to find.
Uncomfortable, disturbing, chilling reading, in a fragmented, fractured style. Hieronymous Bosch meets James Ellroy somewhere off the M62. Memorable and terrifying.
on 22 April 2010
Peter Hunter is the man called in from Greater Manchester Police to clean up the mess that is the West Yorkshire Police Force. The same mess as depicted within the dark pages of 1974 and 1977. At his almost every turn he faces obstruction and insubordination. He is very close to uncovering the truth, and the dark forces know it.
If Nineteen Seventy Seven left some readers bemused as what constitutes a force for good in the dark world of Peace, some will be left abjectly bewildered by the time they reach the conclusion of this novel. This is the finest novel of the quartet and the mysteries that are beginning to unravel lends the reader to imagine this dark world quite vividly. The prose pulls you in to Hunter's world and you will him on to reveal the truth.
Anyone disappointed by Nineteen Seventy Seven could be forgiven for not continuing with the series, but it would be a shame for them not to be treated to this, the finest book in the quartet.