From the very first page of David Peace's first novel, 1974
, it soon becomes clear that something is rotten in the state of Yorkshire: a young girl is missing. The Yorkshire Post
's young but disillusioned crime correspondent, Edward Dunford, is assigned to the story, while also coping with the recent death of his father and his return to his native Yorkshire after a brief and unsuccessful stint in Fleet Street. For the jaded Dunford, it's just another story; the only intrigue is whether the girl will be found dead or alive before Christmas--that is, until she is discovered brutally murdered, face down in a ditch with a pair of swan's wings sewn into her back. As Dunford follows the case, he begins to make a series of terrifying connections with a string of child murders, plunging him into a gut-wrenching nightmare of corruption, violence, sadism, blackmail, and sexual obsession--from the upper echelons of local government to the tacky heart of Yorkshire darkness.
As Peace's tale of corruption and conspiracy unravels, it becomes clear that 1974 is as influenced by Orwell's own bleak vision of Britain in 1984 as it is by the wonderfully evoked atmosphere of the mid '70s. The Bay City Rollers, Leeds United, It Ain't Half Hot Mum, and Vauxhall Viva's all make an appearance. The novel works at several levels, from the brilliantly unsentimental homecoming of the gifted, alienated northern son to a terrifyingly accurate portrayal of an insular, tribal community. The plot is complex and frenetic, and Peace often neglects loose ends, especially as he builds to an extremely powerful climax. Yet the dialogue is fast, witty, and violent; a must-read for fans of Yorkshire Gothic. --Jerry Brotton
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. The first volume in Peace's Red Riding Quartet, a grim whodunit noir, will remind many of the bleak, violent work of James Ellroy. In 1974, Eddie Dunford has just been named crime correspondent for the Yorkshire Post. His first major assignment coincides with the death of his father, but his professional ambitions trump his family obligations. The case he's covering involves the disappearance of 10-year-old Clare Kemplay. When Dunford's digging unearths some similar unsolved cases, neither his editor nor the police welcome his efforts. After Kemplay's strangled and mutilated corpse turns up, an unknown source supplies Dunford with leads suggesting that some prominent officials and businessmen may be implicated in the crime. The staccato, choppy prose is a perfect mechanism for conveying Dunford's frenetic approach to his life and work. Peace (Tokyo Year Zero) doesn't pull any punches, and his uncompromising portrayal of his dark and conflicted protagonist will appeal to those who like their mean streets to be really mean.
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