"I drive back into the centre of Manchester, the place empty and deserted on a wet and bloody Sunday before Christmas, the lights out."
There are some books that you know, when you crack the first page, will give you nightmares. Having explored Peace's other Red Riding novels, I knew exactly what I was in for. Strangely that did not deter me from embarking on this novel about the Yorkshire Ripper.
What is perhaps the most menacing aspect of the novel is not the idea of a serial killer, rather it is an atmosphere where no-one - least of all the police, can be trusted.
The stream of consciousness style of the prose adds to the atmosphere of menace and the sense of being stuck right in the middle of the action. The air is ripe with distrust, disgust and bad behaviour. Each chapter introduced with a strange, paragraph free vomit of prose that contributes to the atmosphere of deranged and unpredictable behaviour. Peace muddies the idea of black and white, good and bad, by providing a disjointed hodgepodge of grey that has the potential to discolour all.
The nights I was reading this novel. I had to put it aside and read something less troubling, just so I could actually get some sleep. That is the effect all the Red Riding novels have had on me and yet I continued reading them. There is something both repulsive and compelling about them.
4 out of 5 the kind of reading that is disturbing and yet compelling.