Monday, October 17, 2011

Nineteen Eighty Three by David Peace 

Yorkshire 1983 and Detective Chief Superintendent Maurice Jobson is heading the investigation into missing schoolgirl Hazel Atkinson. Jobson, a corrupt police officer, is puzzled by the similarities between this disappearance and a similar case he investigated and solved a number of years ago, a case for which a suspect had been charged and is currently serving a sentence for.

As the novel progresses Jobson replays the events of the previous investigation particularly his part in the conviction of the suspect Michael Myshkin which was trumped up.

Nineteen Eighty Three is told by three protagonists; Detective Superintendent Maurice Jobson, John Winston Piggott solicitor for Michael Myshkin and BJ a rent boy who somehow knows the dirty secrets of the good and great in Yorkshire.

The novel which alternates between Jobson, Piggott and BJ, will be confusing for some readers. In its defence the structure of the novel fills in many blanks in the story of the Red Riding Quartet. For example we are told of meetings between two of the characters from both points of view.

Nineteen Eighty Three is much more than your typical crime novel. David Peace shines a light on Yorkshire society in the early 1980’s, a society which at the time was rejoicing in the re-election of Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister. As England seemed to be striving and thriving under the leadership of the Iron Lady, police corruption and brutality are rife throughout Yorkshire.

The novel is broken down in a series of short chapters. The writing is rhythmic, hypnotic and repetitive. The tension is built up, the horror reinforced. Police interrogation techniques are repeated verbatim again and again.

But you need to be warned. This is not a stand-alone novel. It is of no benefit to the reader to suddenly pick Nineteen Eighty Three up and expect to grasp the whole story. You will need to start at the very first novel in the series then work through to the conclusion.

In Nineteen Eighty Three there are no happy endings. Brutality reigns supreme. The perpetrators are not arrested in order to make the streets safe. The police are still corrupt, the city is still a battleground. Nineteen Eighty Three concludes the Red Riding Quartet.


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