Saturday, March 14, 2009

Nineteen Seventy-Four, by David Peace

(hb; 1999: Book One of the Yorkshire Quartet, aka the Riding Red Quartet)

From the back cover:

"Jeanette Garland, missing Castleford, July 1969.
"Susan Ridyard, missing Rochdale, March 1972.
"Clare Kempley, missing Morley, since yesterday.

"Christmas bombs and Lucky on the run, Leeds United and the Bay City Rollers, The Exorcist and It Ain't Half Hot Mum.

"It's winter, 1974, Yorkshire, and Ed Dunford's got the job he wanted. Crime correspondent for the Evening Post. He didn't know it was going to be a season in hell. A dead little girl with a swan's wings stitched to her back. A gypsy camp in a ring of fire. Corruption everywhere you look. . ."


This is a fictionalized account of the "Yorkshire Ripper" killings, which took place between 1975 and 1981.

Raw, riveting, twist-laden, and damn near impossible to put down, this is one of the best crime novels I've read this year. Peace has written a novel that's reminiscent of the finer crime works of Elmore Leonard, Mickey Spillane and James Ellroy (Ellroy's L.A. Noir trilogy seems to be a heavy influence, stylistically, structurally and character-wise).

No one is innocent here. Everybody's running some sort of game, whether it be emotional, financial, criminal, political, or a variation of the aforestated -- even Dunford comes off as a heel: a heel with a conscience, but still a heel.

Nineteen Seventy-Four gripped me from the first word to the last, with a finish that's as explosive as anything Spillane put on the page.

Followed by Nineteen Seventy-Seven.

Nineteen Seventy-Four is now a film, titled Red Riding: 1974. Set to be released stateside in 2009, and scripted by Tony Grisoni, Julian Jarrold directed the first part of the Grisoni-scripted Red Riding trilogy.

Andrew Garfield played Eddie Dunford. Anthony Flanagan played Barry Gannon. Sean Bean played John Dawson. Cathryn Bradshaw played Marjorie Dawson. Michelle Dockery played Kathryn Tyler. Kelly Freemantle played Clare Strachan. Rebecca Hall played Paula Garland. Eddie Marsan played Jack Whitehead. Daniel Mays played Michael Myshkin. Robert Sheehan played BJ.

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