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Peace, David - 'Nineteen Seventy Seven'
Hardback: 352 pages (Sep. 2009) Publisher: Quercus Publishing Plc ISBN: 1847245366

NINETEEN SEVENTY SEVEN, the second book from the pen of David Peace has, like NINETEEN SEVENTY FOUR, his first, been re-released ten years after first being published. It is every bit as gritty and harsh as his first offering and is yet another very fine piece of work.

Set in Yorkshire in 1977, the world is caught up in Ripper Fever as young women fear for their lives and Peter Sutcliffe rampages, still unchecked, through the prostitutes in this part of the UK. NINETEEN SEVENTY SEVEN follows the lives of two men. One, Jack Whitehead, a journalist, and the other, Bob Fraser, a policeman. Both are involved in researching the Ripper case and seem to be lone decent men in a sea of corruption and brutality. Both are already involved in the prostitute scene - professionally and personally - so the case is affecting them deeply and tensions are running high.

Once again, Peace uses hard-hitting vocabulary to portray the tense, harsh atmosphere in his book. His clever use of punctuation continues to drive home the strong emotions felt by the central characters; the more stressed they are, the shorter the sentences and key words or phrases are repeated over and over. Beautiful.

There is a very subtle link between NINETEEN SEVENTY SEVEN and NINETEEN SEVENTY FOUR; characters in the former sometimes refer to the traumatic ending of the latter, or to Edward Dunford, the journalist that is central to the story. Jack Whitehead is also present in the first book, but it isn't essential to read NINETEEN SEVENTY FOUR in order to understand NINETEEN SEVENTY SEVEN (although it is preferable to do so in order to enjoy the links and similarities).

This book is highly readable, highly addictive and beautifully crafted with a heart-stopping twist at the end that leaves you reeling. However, I have one small problem with it and that is, as the chapters alternate their focus between one character and the other, it is sometimes extremely difficult to determine whether it is the policeman or the journalist you are reading about. Maybe this is part of the appeal of the book, as it certainly isn't an easy read and I love a challenge.

David Peace's books are amazing. I wish I had found them years ago.

Read another review of NINETEEN SEVENTY SEVEN.

Amanda C M Gillies, Scotland
December 2010

Details of the author's other books with links to reviews can be found on the Books page.
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 12/12/2010 15:41