Cover image for Nineteen seventy four
Nineteen seventy four
Peace, David.
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Publication Information:
London : Serpent's Tail, 1999.
Physical Description:
295 pages ; 22 cm
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X Adult Fiction Central Library

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Jeanette Garland, missing Castleford, July 1969. Susan Ridyard, missing Rochdale, March 1972. Clare Kemplay, missing Morley, since yesterday. Christmas bombs and Lucky on the run, Leeds United and the Bay City Rollers, The Exorcist and It Ain't Half Hot Mum. It's winter, 1974, Yorkshire, and Ed Dunford's got the job he wanted. Crime correspondent for the Evening Post. He didn't know it was going to be a season in hell. A dead little girl with a swan's wings stitched to her back. A gypsy camp in a ring of fire. Corruption everywhere you look. In Nineteen Seventy Four , David Peace brings the passion and stylistic bravado of a James Ellroy novel to this terrifyingly intense journey into a secret history of sexual obsession, greed and sadism - the finest British crime debut since Derek Raymond's He Died With His Eyes Open.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Peace's homage to Orwell's 1984 takes place in Yorkshire, England, in the two weeks leading up to Christmas 1974. Against a backdrop of IRA bombings, economic collapse, and government blundering, reporter Edward Dunsford scrambles to ferret out the truth behind a series of baffling child murders. Instead, he stumbles into a world of corruption as pervasive as oxygen. Adapting the structure of 1984, Peace leads a puppetlike naif through revelation, betrayal, and unreasoning fear to the ultimate destruction of the soul at the hands of a dystopian society. The novel presents not a warning about the future but a rueful tale of the shabby and unethical recent past upon which our current reality is built. This is an extremely violent novel; Dunsford witnesses and suffers more punishment than Mike Hammer ever imagined. Peace interweaves this violence and obscenity with the bland pap of Christmas carols and mind-numbing 1970s pop music, underlining how debased society has become. Riveting but unsettling. --George Needham

Publisher's Weekly Review

With this racy exploration of child murder, perversion and corruption in 1970s Yorkshire, Peace makes an explosive debut in contemporary crime fiction. Edward Dunford is a newspaper reporter investigating a little girl's disappearance; when the child turns up dead, with swan's wings sewed to her back, Dunford is haunted by the brutal image. Connecting this crime with several similar savageries, he searches for the serial killer and keeps uncovering other surprises: the sexual proclivities of local political figures, the questionable ethics of reporters and the gypsy-bashing tendencies of local policemen. Dunford himself is eventually fingered for the murder, and he's interrogated and tortured into making a confession. Raunch is at a premium in this book, with crude language peppering the dialogue and no taboo left undisturbed. Dunford has rough sex with both a co-worker (who becomes pregnant) and with the mother of a murdered girl. Throughout his sexual liaisons, Dunford mentally replays the grisly images and remains emotionally detached from his sexual partners. The plot darkens as more evil emerges, like an endless series of slaps to the face. The narrative reaches a truly nihilistic conclusion that few readers will see coming. Peace's style is punchy and tough, replete with one-sentence paragraphs, partial sentences and a plenitude of f-words (by now a clich‚ of literary and cinematic working-class English dialect). The dialogue is monosyllabic, abrupt,, and the plot churns with narrative adrenaline. One almost wishes Peace would slow down to reflect every now and then. But the book's head-on nakedness is original and overwhelming, an unflinching portrait of the dysfunctional family of humankind. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Nineteen Seventy Four by David PeaceLeadtext: 'All we ever get is Lord fucking Lucan and wingless bloody crows,' smiled Gilman, like this was the best day of our lives:Friday 13 December 1974.Waiting for my first Front Page, the Byline Boy at last: Edward Dunford, North of England Crime Correspondent; two days too fucking late.I looked at my father's watch.9 a.m. and no bugger had been to bed; straight from the Press Club, still stinking of ale, into this hell:The Conference Room, Millgarth Police Station, Leeds.The whole bloody pack sat waiting for the main attraction, pens poised and tapes paused; hot TV lights and cigarette smoke lighting up the windowless room like a Town Hall boxing ring on a Late Night Fight Night; the paper boys taking it out on the TV set, the radios static and playing it deaf:'They got sweet FA.''A quid says she's dead if they got George on it.'Khalid Aziz at the back, no sign of Jack.I felt a nudge. It was Gilman again, Gilman from the Manchester Evening News and before.'Sorry to hear about your old man, Eddie.''Yeah, thanks,' I said, thinking news really did travel fucking fast.'When's the funeral?'I looked at my father's watch again. 'In about two hours.''Jesus. Hadden still taking his pound of bloody flesh then.''Yeah,' I said, knowing, funeral or no funeral, no way I'm letting Jack fucking Whitehead back in on this one.'I'm sorry, like.''Yeah,' I said.Seconds out:A side door opens, everything goes quiet, everything goes slow. First a detective and the father, then Detective Chief Superintendent George Oldman, last a policewoman with the mother.I pressed record on the Philips Pocket Memo as they took their seats behind the plastic-topped tables at the front, shuffling papers, touching glasses of water, looking anywhere but up.In the blue corner:Detective Chief Superintendent George Oldman, a face from before, a big man amongst big men, thick black hair plastered back to look like less, a pale face streaked beneath the lights with a thousand burst blood vessels, the purple footprints of tiny spiders running across his bleached white cheeks to the slopes of his drunken nose.Me thinking, his face, his people, his times.And in the red corner:The mother and the father in their crumpled clothes and greasy hair, him flicking at the dandruff on his collar, her fiddling with her wedding ring, both twitching at the bang and the wail of a microphone being switched on, looking for all the world more the sinners than the sinned against.Me thinking, did you do your own daughter?The policewoman put her hand upon the mother's arm, the mother turned, staring at her until the policewoman looked away.Round One:Oldman tapped on the microphone and coughed:'Thank you for coming gentlemen. It's been a long night for everyone, especially Mr and Mrs Kemplay, and it's going to be a long day. So we'll keep this brief.'Oldman took a sip from a glass of water.'At about 4 p.m. yesterday evening, 12 December, Clare Kemplay disappeared on her way home from Morley Grange Junior and Infants, Morley. Clare left school with two classmates at a quarter to four. At the junction of Rooms Lane and Victoria Road, Clare said goodbye to her friends and was last seen walking down Victoria Road towards her home at approximately four o'clock. This was the last time anyone saw Clare.'The father was looking at Oldman.'When Clare failed to return home, a search was launched early yesterday evening by the Morley Police, along with the help of Mr and Mrs Kemplay's friends and neighbours, however, as yet, no clue has been found as to the nature of Clare's disappearance. Clare has never gone missing before and we are obviously very concerned as to her whereabouts and safety.'Oldman touched the glass again but let it go.'Clare is ten years old. She is fair and has blue eyes and long straight hair. Last night Clare was wearing an orange waterproof kagool, a dark blue turtleneck sweater, pale blue denim trousers with a distinctive eagle motif on the back left pocket and red Wellington boots. When Clare left school, she was carrying a plastic Co-op carrier bag containing a pair of black gym shoes.'Oldman held up an enlarged photograph of a smiling girl, saying, 'Copies of this recent school photograph will be distributed at the end.'Oldman took another sip of water.Chairs scraped, papers rustled, the mother sniffed, the father stared.'Mrs Kemplay would now like to read a short statement in the hope that any member of the public who may have seen Clare after four o'clock yesterday evening, or who may have any information regarding Clare's whereabouts or her disappearance, will come forward to assist us in our investigation. Thank you.'Detective Chief Superintendent Oldman gently turned the microphone towards Mrs Kemplay.Camera flashes exploded across the Conference Room, startling the mother and leaving her blinking into our faces.I looked down at my notebook and the wheels turning the tape inside the Philips Pocket Memo.'I would like to appeal to anybody who knows where my Clare is or who saw her after yesterday teatime to please telephone the police. Clare is a very happy girl and I know she would never just run off without telling me. Please, if you know where she is or if you've seen her, please telephone the police.'A strangled cough, then silence.Hooked up.Mrs Kemplay had her hands to her mouth, her eyes closed.Mr Kemplay stood up and then sat back down, as Oldman said:'Gentlemen, I have given you all the information we have at the moment and I'm afraid we haven't got time to take any questions right now. We've scheduled another press conference for five, unless there are any developments before then. Thank you gentlemen.'Chairs scraped, papers rustled, murmurs became mutters, whispers words.Any developments, fuck.'Thank you, gentlemen. That'll be all for now.'Detective Chief Superintendent Oldman stood up and turned to go but no-one else at the table moved. He turned back into the glare of the TV lights, nodding at journalists he couldn't see.'Thank you, lads.' I looked down at the notebook again, the wheels still turning the tape, seeing any developments face down in a ditch in an orange waterproof kagool.I looked back up, the other detective was lifting Mr Kemplay up by his elbow and Oldman was holding open the side door for Mrs Kemplay, whispering something to her, making her blink.'Here you go.' A heavy detective in a good suit was passing along copies of the school photograph.I felt a nudge. It was Gilman again.'Doesn't look so fucking good does it?''No,' I said, Clare Kemplay's face smiling up at me.'Poor cow. What must she be going through, eh?''Yeah,' I said, looking at my father's watch, my wrist cold.'Here, you'd better fuck off hadn't you.''Yeah.'The M1, Motorway One, South from Leeds to Ossett.Pushing my father's Viva a fast sixty in the rain, the radio rocking to the Rollers' Shang-a-lang.Seven odd miles, chanting the copy like a mantra:A mother made an emotional plea.The mother of missing ten-year-old Clare Kemplay made an emotional plea.Mrs Sandra Kemplay made an emotional plea as fears grew.Emotional pleas, growing fears.I pulled up outside my mother's house on Wesley Street, Ossett, at ten to ten, wondering why the Rollers hadn't covered The Little Drummer Boy, thinking get it done and done right.Into the phone:'OK, sorry. Do the lead paragraph again and then it' Excerpted from Nineteen Seventy-Four by David Peace All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.