Peace, David - '1983'
Finally we get to the final part of Peace's amazing masterpiece.
The Yorkshire Ripper is behind bars, a convicted child-killer is seeking an appeal, the Yorkshire police are as corrupt and dangerous as usual. But things are coming to boiling point and soon everything will be different.
Here our narrators are Maurice Jobson, the senior policeman whose corruption and brutality runs through all the books; John Pigott, a lawyer from the first volume; and BJ the rent boy who has made minor appearances through all the volumes.
Slowly at first and then with increasing speed the dovetailed storylines reveal exactly what happened back in 1977, through a bewildering series of flashbacks and reports from differing viewpoints. So thick and fast do the narrative changes come that it is not always clear exactly who did what and to whom. The effect is like a juggernaut running out of control, careering towards the inevitable crash. Peace however is in total control of what he's doing, leading us back over the events of the previous books (1974, 1977 and 1980), revealing insignificant details that suddenly loom large in the light of more recent events. It's the reader who feels out of control as the pace quickens and the realisation of exactly what's been going on over the past three books begins to dawn.
These are not easy books to read. Let your attention wander for just a moment and you're lost in the sprawling maze of characters and plot-lines and multiple narrative voices. But stick with it and, trust me, it's worth it. Peace paints a bleak and depressing world though. It's a place where the women are casually disregarded, are abused and discarded; where the men are for the most part venal and immoral; where death is unimportant and you cannot trust in the police. It's not a world where I'd want to spend much time but it held me gripped through all four books which is a testament to the quality of the writing. Would I recommend these books? Without a doubt.
Pat Austin, England