Red Riding Quartet, by David Peace

Through four novels, innumerable ruined characters, the Yorkshire Ripper murders and more than a few scenes of utterly shocking intensity, Peace’s Red Riding quartet interrogates a core of disturbing themes with hypnotic single-mindedness. Returning constantly to sadistic police brutality, unconquerable sexual obsessions and the torture of children, Red Riding succeeds overwhelmingly because the horrifying cruelty depicted is borne not of abstract evil nor incomprehensible psychology, but simple greed (the motive which is, of course, indispensable to all free-market economic theory). Wealth buys immunity from democratic control; Peace’s exposition of this process is as cogent as it is viscerally, terrifyingly powerful. AB

Serpent’s Tail; 1999-2002

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Language ought to be the joint creation of poets and manual workers. George Orwell

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