I previously reviewed David Peace's first novel in this quartet, and found it wanting. This is a much more solid effort.
In the main, this improvement is the result of focusing on a clear and available plot - the miners' strike of 1984. This gives the book a trajectory, pace, and hook that was missing from the first book. Peace has also toned down the cod Yorkshirisms and made this a more readable book as a result.
Problems still remain. Once again, many of his characters are interchangeable (e.g. Neil Fontaine and the Mechanic), and there is no single character drawn with sufficient depth or power to hold the story together. His drawings of real-life individuals such as Arthur Scargill read like a cop-out to me, as if Peace was wary of offending the still-alive, or fearful of a law suit.
Overall, though, the whole piece hangs together well, and is more convincing in evoking a mood and a time.
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