Nineteen eighty by David Peace*****

Reading dates: 24 June – 02 July 2015

I read this during the first week of my wonderful fortnight at Yoga Plus in Agios Pavlos (Crete) and the contrast between page and site could not be more marked.

Crime novels don’t get much better than this. Nineteen Eighty, like the other novels in David Peace’s Red Riding Quartet, is eerie, well-written and has evocative characters. But what makes this book stand out is the subject matter — the hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper — its historical base and, above all, the detail of the police investigation, which I found fascinating. I enjoyed the oddity of this particular plot and how it links to the previous two volumes, while remaining separate, like a well placed parenthetic remark. The overall plot of Red Riding is masterly, delicately threaded and evocatively written. The repetitions in the text are a poetic litany acting like a mantra which gets you, as the reader, into the manic and intense frame of mind of the crime solving. I did not only read; I felt and I feared, I hoped and despaired. As ever with Peace, there is no redemption. Evil characters are truly evil and there is no mercy for the sake of resolution. This is how books should be written. With the heart (that Yorkshire), the skin (which crawls), the head (which knows what reading is) and the gut (which transports you to Christmas 1980, with smells and all). Unlike the previous crime novel I read (The girl on the train), there is plenty of gut here. This is a book for those who love crime fiction, literature, and are not afraid of a rough ride when reading. I recommend it to you, whomever you are. I will be re-reading it again when I get doubts about the genre. In my plan to write a crime fiction novel when I am 50, this is my ultimate model.