Posts Tagged ‘Yorkshire Ripper’

1983 and Red Riding Quartet Wrap-up

January 23rd, 2011    Posted in 52 Books in one year challenge, Crime, Fiction
 

David Peace's1983It’s impossible to talk about David Peace’s 1983 without putting into context as the final installment of the Red Riding Quartet. The first three novels in the quartet (1974, 1977, and 1980) tell the stories of both the Yorkshire Ripper and a child rapist/murderer. Each novel is told from different viewpoints from the novels before. In 1983, the story is told through three viewpoints: Maurice Jobson, high ranking police officer, John Piggott, Lawyer, and BJ, male prostitute. These three have the perspective to shed partial light on the mysteries that permeate the novels.

Some of the shadowy characters from the first three books are pulled somewhat into focus in the final installment, such as Reverend Laws, whom I assume is an unrecognized serial killer who preys on the weak. The police in this series aren’t much better, physically abusing suspects to force confessions so they can pin crimes on the innocent. Arguably the only people in the series who are innocent—the children—are victimized by the lack of true justice, as it allows abusers to walk free and the wrongfully accused to molder in jail.

The quartet shows a murky and unclear world with flawed, unlikable, and corrupt people. People who are somewhat decent and try to get to the center of the corruption or decay end up ruined.

Peace is purposefully repetitive, with whole passages repeated verbatim between both novels and within a single passage. This creates a mood and ambiance within the novel, even if it doesn’t always push the plot forward. But that’s okay, since atmosphere is at least as important as the plot in this dense and dark series. He also uses run-on sentences, sometimes lasting over a page, in interesting ways.

1983 didn’t bring about a full resolution of the various plotlines, although key elements, such as the identity (or identities) of the child rapist/murderer were resolved. There are lots of loose ends in this series, and I assume this by authorial intent. For example:

I assume Eddie Dunford died at the end of 1974, but it’s never confirmed in the text. Several people are clearly haunted by his memory, but if it’s because he died or went crazy, disappeared, etc is never shown.  Dunford drives a Viva throughout 1974, and there’s a mysterious old Viva in 1983. Does it belong to Leonard Marsh, son of a boogeyman, or is the Viva meant to imply Dunford is still there?  Is it an echo and/or ghost from the past?

The Red Riding Quartet was adapted into a film trilogy, and I’ll have to see how the filmmakers interpreted some of Peace’s more ambivalent plot lines, and how they summed up the stories. I’ll be interested in whether or not they left plot lines dangling, or if they tied the series up neatly with a little bow. The Red Riding Quartet isn’t unlike real life. For example, look at the Kyron Harmon case in Oregon. A young child disappears from school, and nine months or so later, has yet to be found. No arrests have been made. Someone out there knows the truth, but the story isn’t resolved, and might never be.

I’d definitely recommend this series to people that enjoy crime noir and atmospheric novels, with the caveat that it’s a dark, brutal, and violent series with an open ended conclusion. It’s not going to leave you happy at the end, but it will make you think.

Reviewed by: Kelly

Title: 1983
Author: David Peace
Read: January 2011
Source: Public Library

No Comments

1980 by David Peace

January 9th, 2011    Posted in 52 Books in one year challenge, Crime, Fiction, Kelly
 

1980 by David Peace1980 surprised me in one way: the protagonist, Peter Hunter, is likable. He’s not perfect, but he’s the closest to be a good guy yet in the Red Riding Quartet.

The novel begins when Hunter, a “clean” cop, is brought in from Manchester to review the Yorkshire Ripper case and offer a new perspective. He’s distrusted from the start, as he’s been brought to Yorkshire before to investigate police officers.

Like everyone who’s come into contact with the murders in this series, he’s caught into the tangled web of Yorkshire police corruption, and his life crumbles around him.  Meanwhile, the Yorkshire Ripper still lurks in the shadows, preying upon women.

1980 clarifies a few plot points brought up in the previous novels, and shows how the past is misinterpreted, hidden, or covered up with seemingly malicious intent. Like the rest of the series, the novel’s filled of imagery of rot and decay, and full of racism, sexism, corruption, police brutality, and sexual violence towards women.

The writing moves along at a furious pace, and passages and sentences are repeated, like echoes. I look forward to the final installment of this series—1983—and am interested to see how the quartet will be pulled together. (For example, maybe I’ll find out if Eddie Dunford from 1974 is actually dead.)

Reviewed by: Kelly

Novel: 1980
Author: David Peace
Read: January 2011
Source: Public Library

No Comments

David Peace’s 1977: even more dark and brutal than 1974

January 3rd, 2011    Posted in 52 Books in one year challenge, Crime, Kelly, Mystery
 

1977From 1975 to 1981, the Yorkshire Ripper preyed upon women, murdering thirteen and injuring seven. While the majority of his victims were prostitutes, some were ‘ordinary’ women with regular jobs and lives. One murder victim was just sixteen years old.

David Peace’s 1977 is a fictionalized account of the hunt for the real life serial killer. The novel follows two characters: a slightly corrupt cop, and a jaded journalist. Both characters are present in the first novel in the Red Riding Quartet, 1974, although this novel brings them into focus.

Jack Whitehead, the journalist, is haunted by crimes he’s covered, and by the actions of his coworker Eddie from the first novel. Detective Sergeant Bob Fraser seemed like he was on the up-and-up in the first novel, so either the corruption of his fellow police officers has rubbed off on him, or he was always morally ambiguous. Both make questionable moral judgments throughout the novel, with surprising consequences.

Like its predecessor, 1977 has unresolved plot threads that will hopefully be tied up in the final two books of Red Riding Quartet.

On a side note, the real life Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe, is in Broadmoor psychiatric hospital and has challenged his life sentence in court: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/nov/29/peter-sutcliffe-challenge-high-court

Sutcliffe was caught 30 years ago, and the young journalist who “unmasked” Sutcliffe has written about the experience: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1343210/Jonathan-Margolis-The-night-I-unmasked-Yorkshire-Ripper.html

Reviewed by: Kelly

Book: 1977
Author: David Peace
Read: January, 2011
Source: Public Library

No Comments