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Satisfying conclusion to the Yorkshire Quartet
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.