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on July 30, 2003
When a figure dominates a genre as James Ellroy does modern crime fiction, then it is inevitable that blurb writers suggest unnatural comparisons between authors and the master. Many have suffered. Ian Rankin is Scotland's Ellroy; and David Peace is Yorkshire's. While some writers suffer from the comparison, Peace does not.
His series of novels set in and around Leeds at the time of the Yorkshire Ripper murders is in my view the finest modern British series in crime fiction. Dark, desperate, highly stylised, moving, they engage with modern Britain - drawing on a number of topical themes: abuse; corruption; conspiracy.
This the final novel in the quartet revisits many of the threads initiated in 1974, but are presented in such a way that knowledge of the previous novels is not necessary.
The three principals here: BJ, a rent boy, Piggot, a corrupt solicitor, and Jobson, a corrupt policeman, are set in three different interlinking narratives. In demonstrating how his style has developed since his earlier work, here various devices are used effortlessly. Piggot's chapters are written in the second person, BJ refers to himself continually in the third person. The device differentiates the narrative threads, but also serves to demonstrate the distancing each character has from their story.
The characters are all too human, complex people with complex motivations. Violence is presented explictly, the consequences of actions explored (throughout the whole of the twenty five year span covered by the novel).
The subject matter - violent child murders and abuse - may be too much for some. The writing style may be too much for others. BUt make no mistake, David Peace is the most exciting and most important thing that has happened to crime fiction in the UK in a very long time.
Since publication in the UK Peace has been listed as one of the Best Young British NOvelists in Granta magazine. He is the only genre writer listed.
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VINE VOICEon November 25, 2008
In this last book of the "Red Riding Quartet", we come back to three protagonist from the other three books. Maurice 'The Owl' Jobson is followed through his twenty five year corrupt career. Barry 'BJ' the rent boy of 1973 is a strange catalyst for the story who is always in the wrong place at the wrong time. Jim Piggott is a solicitor whose usual clients are pimps and whores but is out to prove that Michael Myshkin did not murder the young girls and sew on swan wings.

The chapters swing between the previous three book years and 1969 and 1972. We learn of the brutality that Myshkin (his mate Jim Ashworth), BJ and Piggott suffered as children. We also learn about the 'taking of the North' by the new 'Yorkshire Constabulary'. When Leeds is merged into the regional police force, the Chief Constable decides that it's time to take over the porn trade and use it to make all 'us coppers' rich. What it does is to corrupt the police force beyond recognition even to those inside of it.

All three major characters have their own quirks so that the writing seems at times to be by different authors. BJ always speaks of himself as BJ (as in BJ in car, BJ running away), in a childlike manner. Both Piggott and Jobson tend to begin their chapters speaking in the first person and it's not always clear who is speaking until after a couple of pages. The book is written in a staccato method and sometimes in 'train of thought' or intertwined with lyrics or poems making it absorbing and confusing at the same time.

Rapped around all this is the "Yorkshire Ripper" and the stories of three ten year old girls who were kidnapped and later found dead with the wings of swans sewn onto their backs. Myshkin who is mentally slow, has been forced to confess that he took the young girls (though the real killer(s) are caught in the 1977 book). But when questioned by Piggott he says the police told him what to say but he knows who did it. He tells Piggott that 'the Wolf' did it (sure it wasn't Grandma or the Wood Man). [Red Riding Quartet - get it]

The Yorkshire Ripper was a real murderer who terrorized the area around Leeds in the late sixties and early seventies. In the books he knocks out his prey (usually prostitutes) with a ball-peen hammer and then stabs them with a phillips screwdriver. The cops use this MO to get rid of some woman in their pornography business who have become trouble. It becomes harder and harder to tell who the 'real villains' are when every cop seems to be "bent". For me the ending was to vague and 'mysterious' and I would have loved to have had a epilogue or author's note to help the 'noir challenged' like me. A superb quartet of books.

Zeb Kantrowitz
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on August 7, 2010
I don't need an author to supply an "Agatha Christie' solution to a mystery (or say it was 'Miss Peacock in the library with the candlestick!). But when one invests the time and energy to read a 1417 page series of four novels and STILL only has a very vague idea of what the heck happened, something is missing in the author's arsenol. The stylistic 'tics' are also somewhat annoying (the endless repetitions slow things down enormously, and are not as poetic or evocative as Peace intends). That said, the books DO keep one's interest, and individual scenes are electrifying ... I just wish the books hadn't left me totally confused and in the dark as to who did what to whom ... also it doesn't help when there are literally THREE characters named Clare, three named Bob, and three named Peter...which is incredibly confusing and shows not only a lack of imagination, but a somewhat sadistic attitude towards one's readers...
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon October 22, 2012
This is the finale in the Red Riding Quartet and none of the books are stand alone stories, so, before you think of reading this, you must first read the three preceeding novels: Nineteen Seventy-four: The Red Riding Quartet, Book One (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard),Nineteen Seventy-seven: The Red Riding Quartet, Book Two (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) and Nineteen Eighty (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard). If you have already read those novels, then this is the dark, violent dreamscape that makes up the final novel and you will already know the themes and characters that populate the pages.

It is Friday, May 13th 1983, and we are back at Millgarth Police Station in Leeds. The Owl - Detective Chief Superintendent Maurice Jobson, is calling a police conference. Ten year old Hazel Atkins disappeared on the way home from school. Another press conference and another missing girl, joining Jeanette Garland, Susan Ridyard and Clare Kemplay. Michael Myshkin is in prison for the murder of at least one of those girls, but now his mother wishes to appeal and she asks John Piggott, a local solicitor to look into the case. As before, this novel uses the point of view of particular characters - in this book Piggott, Jobson and BJ, a rent boy we have met before and whose storyline weaves throughout the quartet from the first to last book.

These books are dark and bleak in the extreme, with themes of murder, violence, abuse and corruption. Although these books will not appeal to everybody, if you begin reading them you will have no alternative but to read to the conclusion, because they are utterly compelling once you begin. This is neither crime nor literary fiction, but a heady mix of the two, intertwining storylines along with genres to create something quite different and quite brilliant.
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on May 12, 2010
My favorite book of the series. It not only gives an ending to the story, but explains the history of the corruption of the Yorkshire Police Department.

This book is told through the POV of three different characters. Maurice 'the Owl' Jobson, one of the heads of the corruption. You see his conscious eat away at him in the present as well as how he got pulled into the cover-ups and money making at the very beginning. Solicitor John Piggot, who is handling the appeal of the person arrested for the child murders in 1974. When a new girl is abducted the person arrested in 1974 wants to prove his innocence. John learns some interesting things about his past through his investigation. The final narrator is Barry 'BJ' Anderson, rentboy, and the key that ties all the stories together.

Every character goes through their own personal Hells, and no one leaves the series unscathed.

I don't normally read 4 books in a row by the same author, but Peace has written a very good series, and I'm sad that there aren't any more to read. I will definitely be picking up Peace's other books.

A word about the BBC adaptations of the books. They are extremely different. I only saw the 1974 movie, but it was vastly different from the book. I read spoilers on the other two films on Wikipedia, and they are very different from the books. I want to see the films, but I highly doubt they will as good as the books.
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VINE VOICEon December 2, 2009
David Peace wrote a series of four novels about the Yorkshire Ripper case in Northern England, which involved a series of murders and abuse of children, police torture, and madness. 1983 explains some things but is confusing. Peace writes in an elliptical style, with repeated use of certain phrases. Sylistically, quite like James Ellroy, who just concluded his trilogy with Blood is a Rover. It will make even less sense (and there are still things I do not understand) unless you start with the first, 1974, and the second, 1977, and the third, 1980. It is worth the effort. Some of the characters, the Owl, fat John Piggot (a failed solicitor with an appetite for the truth) BJ the rent boy will stay in your memory. Not everyone's cuppa, but if you enjoy Ellroy, you will be gobsmacked by this quartet. I don't usually read true crime, but I think I want to explore more about this series of murders and investigation into police corruption and brutality. I suspect Peace used fiction to get at truth and saying things he could not otherwise say. Certainly, Ellroy did something like that with his scathing depiction of Hoover and Hughes.
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on May 29, 2013
1983 is the final book in David Peace's Red Riding Quartet. Telling the story of corruption in and around the Yorkshire Police over the period between 1974 and 1983 this brings all the events together, characters return and it's all brought to a bloody final end.
Told in short bursts of narrative there are no hero's here, only villains. Peace writes in a similar vein to James Ellroy and that comparison with his LA Quartet may have been made many times but it's a very good one. Both have breathless prose, just reading this can leave you giddy with its short form narrative, placing you in the protagonist's roles. There is a lot of violence here and there are no punches pulled. You can't skim read this book as it demands your attention as reading it closely gives you all the detail and brilliant brutality.

With a style that rattles off the page like a machine gun and foul language this won't be everyone's taste. But it's a truly riveting read that delivers what the other three books have built towards. Characters like the Owl, BJ and others come swimming back and the old covered ground gets uncovered and the truth finally told. You will be left reeling not just from the scope and style but the sheer brilliance of how it all comes together. Don't skip ahead, read all four in quick succession to get the best impact. But do read, its been a long time since we had a British tale so brutal, atmospheric and well told.
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on November 15, 2013
I typed pages of characters and their relationships and still couldn't figure out what happened. Peace practices obscurantism and calls it art. The most artistic thing is that just as a lot of killing happens in the books Peace kills his relationship with his readers. Performs mayhem on us. Leaves us with the sense of mystery and lostness that parodies the mystery and psychosis of unsolved serial killings. Maybe that's a sort of a message. Experience the anomie. Probably why some like him. The reality he conveys is that nobody understands anything. Including readers.
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on July 18, 2015
The fourth book in the Red Riding series and this was the hardest read of the four with a very confusing ending. The way it was written with repeating the same passages again and again got boring. Only reason I went to the end was to see the outcome. Personally I was disappointed.
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on July 25, 2014
My favorite in the series by far, though I love everything that Peace has written. He is a furious prose-poet posing as a literary crime stylist and chronicler on occult circumstances surrounded important political phenomenon in the 70-80's; as well as a scathing critic of the US occupation of post-War Japan. If you are a fan of THIS BOOK, I pose a question: who is the "He" BJ is running from. I would have assumed it is Laws, but he always rescues BJ when he is being pursued by "He." Is is Jobson? I guess it could be Craven too since "He" doesn't appear in BJ's 1983. The same "He" is also distinguished when they kill Jo-Ro in the flat above RD News. Please offer your opinion.
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