It was a dark and violent noir: 1974 by David Peace

January 2nd, 2011 Posted in Crime, Fiction, Kelly, Mystery

It’s Friday the 13tDavid Peace's 1974h, December 1974, and ten year old Clare Kemplay disappeared on her way home from school. Junior crime reporter Eddie Dunford attends the police press conference, eager for his first byline, even though his father’s funeral is in two hours.

Anti-hero Dunford ties Clare’s disappearance to the kidnappings of two girls in neighboring counties. Eventually he ends up on the wrong side of both the corrupt local police and the puppet-masters of his community, e.g. the business moguls and/or the Yorkshire mafia, depending upon how you view them.

1974 is filled with unsympathetic characters, and with ugly people doing bad things. There were a few plot details I didn’t fully understand. Did police burn down the camp because they wanted to pin Clare’s kidnapping on the gypsies? Or were they clearing the ground for developers? Or both? Neither?

The story relies on dialogue to tell the story in addition to terse, fast prose. Luckily the dialogue is strong. The women of the novel, however, aren’t strong—they’re expendable. They’re also memorable, from poor Clare with swan wings sewn onto her back to the mother of another missing girl that Dunford may or may not love.

The convoluted ending left me scratching my head. 1974 is the first novel in the Red Riding Quartet. Hopefully the unresolved plotlines will be cleared up in later books.

Reviewed by: Kelly

Book: 1974
Author: David Peace
Read: December 2010
Source: Public Library

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