Jessica's Reviews > Nineteen Eighty-Three

Nineteen Eighty-Three by David Peace
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's review
Dec 08, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: kindle, mysteries
Read in December, 2010

I'll review the entire Red Riding Quartet, since the books really compose one large narrative.

David Peace takes us into one of the bleakest worlds I've encountered even in the most hard-boiled detective literature -- northern England from 1974-1983 (with some flashes back into an equally dismal late 60s) in which a child abductor and killer is running rampant, the Yorkshire Ripper is terrorizing the region, and the police force is hopelessly corrupt and in bed with some very bad businessmen. Squalid flats, cups of strong, cheap tea, abandoned warehouses, racist graffiti, and the encroachment of Thatcherism all add up to an atmosphere of inescapable despair. Throw in references to the Moors Murders, graphic, yet lyrical, depictions of mutilated bodies, last moments of terror, and horrific memories, and you have quite a depressing soup.

Peace effectively uses repetition in theme, action, and even wording to communicate the ways in which the lives of cops, victims, killers, perpetrators, and bystanders and inextricably linked, and how they are more alike one another than they'd like to believe. This also can get somewhat confusing, especially since Peace also plays with numerous characters with the same first names. The telling is somewhat elliptical, so even after reading the entire series, a reader may still have a more impressionistic than complete understanding of exactly who has done what to whom. Rather than reading as a whodunit or strict procedural, Red Riding is more appreciated as an atmospheric telling of the tale of a corrupt society and the people it chews up and spits out.

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