Nineteen Seventy Four, by David Peace

The gruesome murder of an a schoolgirl provides the opportunity for journalist Eddie Dunford to make his name as crime correspondent. But this is a world of backhanders and police corruption, where it can be dangerous to dig too deep.

I started reading this with the intention of going through all four novels, having seen the Red Riding tv adaptation when it was first shown. And then I found they were repeating the tv series at the end of the week, so I felt I ought to try and finish at least the first book before watching it.

I've not yet re-watched the tv programme, but from what I can remember it was fairly faithful to the book: rather violent, rather uncompromising, rather squalid-looking, and rather confusing.

Confusing, because there are few attempts made in the book to help the reader. On the whole I think this is a good thing, but it did mean I had to concentrate quite hard on who was who, and at the end I still didn't feel I fully understood exactly what was going on. Often there'll be a conversation in which information is exchanged without being explictly stated, but you have to work out for yourself what it was. And I couldn't always do that.

Squalid - the book did quite well at evoking the grubby feel of winter in Yorkshire in the seventies. In fact I think it worked a bit too hard, and some of the references were a bit heavy handed. Especially with the music - quite often you'll be told, unnecessarily, what song is playing on the radio, and it'll be a 70's classic.

Violent and uncompromising - well it wasn't over the top, but it was quite unpleasant. Not from the point of view of the crimes, but the things that happen to Dunsford.

On the whole, I thought it was a good read, and it's certainly impressive, but I'm not sure I'm going to bother with the other three books - I think, from my memory of the tv series, that they are all linked, and I don't feel enough attachment to the characters to want to make the effort of remembering who everyone is for another three books (which I don't have to hand, so won't be able to read for another few weeks in any case).

But I think I'd read more by David Peace.

Completed : 19-Sep-2009

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