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What kind of hard-boiled nutcase is David Peace?,
This review is from: Red Riding Nineteen Seventy Four (Red Riding Quartet) (Paperback)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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Initial post: 24 Feb 2009 17:10:54 GMT
Last edited by the author on 24 Feb 2009 17:14:12 GMT
What The Dickens? says:
David Peace is a comparitively young man, who knows only what he has read of the 1970's and the style of Policing of the day. (Well, he might have watched 'Life on Mars'!) For sure though, his knowledge is one-sided and coloured by the accounts of left-wing observers at the time. I wouldn't expect a truly unbiased attempt at a novel, by someone who himself wanted to join the Police, but was put off by the actions of Police Officers, unfortunate enough to be sent to the Miners' picket lines. (Unlawful picket lines even then, I might add.) I wonder how he would react to his 'working-class' brothers throwing cold urine over him? The Police were merely trying to uphold the law and whilst the miners dug coal for us, the Police were also digging; turning over the dirt on belhalf of everyone. I doubt Peace has read any real accounts from the opposite perspective, or if he did, he dismissed them as propganda. I shall watch the forthcoming series on British Television with interest, but I don't think I shall see anything that remotely resembles life in the 1970's Police Force; or among the criminal factions come to that.
In reply to an earlier post on 7 Mar 2009 15:32:48 GMT
Last edited by the author on 7 Mar 2009 17:57:39 GMT
Have you read this book? It's a work of fiction, so doesn't have to be unbiased. It was written way before 'Life on Mars' came into existence, and other than the era, the two have nothing in common. Police corruption in the '70s may not have been endemic as some might suggest, but you cannot deny its presence or influence on public attitudes at the time.
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