Category Archives: David Peace

“Dirt under its nails”: Ted Lewis’s Plender

Confession time. I have not been reading a lot of new crime fiction in 2020 and, for reasons that I am sure many of you share, have found it hard to concentrate on reading anything during the Covid-19 lockdown. What I find has been working for me is just picking up something at random from the large number of unread books I have on my shelves and seeing how far I get. Sometimes I don’t get more than 20 pages before turning my attention to something else. Other titles I can’t put down.

Ted Lewis’s 1971 book, Plender, was definitely in the latter category.

I didn’t come to Plender completely cold. As regular readers of this site will know, I am a major Lewis fan. I have written at length about Lewis’s 1970 novel, Jack’s Return Home a.k.a Get Carter, and I reviewed Nick Triplow’s biography of Lewis by Nick Triplow, Getting Carter: Ted Lewis and the Birth of Brit Noir on this site here. Triplow had also recommended Plender at some point in our online correspondence, saying, “It’s got dirt under its nails”. I duly ordered a copy and left it on my shelf where it sat for several years.

Plender was Lewis’s follow up novel to Jack’s Return Home.… Read more

The Red Riding trilogy: David Peace’s Northern England nightmare

Seldom does the nuance and grit of hard-boiled and noir crime fiction translate to the screen. A brilliant exception is the movie adaptations of English writer David Peace’s Red Riding Quartet of books.

Tony Crisoni – who has very few credits of note under his belt with the exception of the screenplay for the 1998 version of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – has taken Peace’s dense, multi-layered alternative history of murder and police corruption in northern England in the seventies and early eighties, and delivered three disturbing and gripping movies. A feat that is all the more amazing given they were made for TV in the UK.

The first film, 1974, follows cocky young reporter Eddie Dunford as he attempts to prize open the mystery surrounding the unsolved murders of a number of young girls, the latest of whom has just been found sexually abused and with swan’s wings stitched to her back.

In the course of his investigation he comes into contact with John Dawson, a local businessman embroiled in a corrupt relationship with the police, and BJ, an elusive male prostitute. He also becomes sexually involved with the despondent mother of one of the missing girls. In the face of escalating threats, Dunford continues his efforts to find the truth with horrendous consequences.… Read more