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1983 is the final part of the Red Riding quartet of novels set in Yorkshire, they echo the Yorkshire Ripper years and feature police brutality and corruption. This book brings together the disparate themes found in the three previous novels 1974, 1977, 1980, all feature rent boys, corrupt cops and dodgy lawyers. They are set in the Yorkshire area.
Thats the basic facts of the novel but what a weird and wonderful novel this is, to say its a trial to read would be an understatment. There are three main characters and each chapter is a first person perspective over the events depicted. The three characters are bj, a rent boy, John Piggott a lawyer and Maurice Jobson is a senior policeman.
The novel portrays Yorkshire and England in the eighties as a horribly dirty, morally corrupt, the place is full of horrible working class poor with loose attitudes on sex, drink, and drugs. Would it be fair to say that this is a reasonable representation of Yorkshire of the time, maybe but it makes for very hard reading. The style of writing also makes for a book which is a challenge to read, I've been thinking about the novel since I read it and I've come to the conclusion that the novel is either written by a genius or a person with serious mental health issues.
Each chapter is written in a style which is like a persons thoughts, its written like this...
He went into town.
People, lots, smelled of p*ss and sh*t.
imagine that but page after page, page after page, thought tumbling on top of each other and no obvious link between the three stories except the setting.
So what is the story well there is a serial killer whose been arrested but a few years later recants and says he didn't do it. He asks the lawyer to investigate and through that we meet the top cop, and we find that the rent boy has a hidden story which if revealed will ultimately reveal the truth.
So I read all 406 pages and afterwards was no closer to understanding, did the killer behind bars do the murders? No idea.
Was the lawyer the books only redeeming character? Maybe but he's still a fat unpleasant character who has a habit of borderline raping young girls he picks up at a club.
And how corrupt is the cop? and does his corruption which leads to a conviction become acceptable when a vicious killer is taken off the streets?
So in conclusion, a strange and weird novel and a hard to read writing style but it might just be a classic of its own type because trying to think of another author who writes anything like him has drawn a blank here.
David Peace is a writer born and raised in Osset West Yorkshire growing up during the Yorkshire Ripper years giving him a jaundiced view on the working class areas of Leeds.
As I said the novel is a hard read and one for those who love a challenging novel then this is a book for them.