'Dewsbury Noir': Crimes of Times in David Peace's Red Riding Quartet

Katy Shaw

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNConference contribution with ISSN or ISBNpeer-review


‘Dewsbury Noir’ This paper suggests that David Peace’s Red Riding Quartet offers contemporary readers an alternative crime fiction, a form of ‘Dewsbury Noir’. David Peace is a twenty first century author who writes about twentieth century crime but, significantly, does not consider himself to be ‘a crime writer’. His novels may concern crime, but offer more than a Yorkshire version of the James Ellroy series. The paper will discuss how and why Peace possesses the framework, tropes and conventions of the genre to articulate an alternative perspective through a recognized form. Offering the Red Riding Quartet as an example of a socially conscious development of British crime fiction, its controversial and explicit content will be analyzed as an anti-sanitisation approach to shifting definitions of crime in contemporary society. The issue of how and why Peace uses his quartet to foreground the shared humanity and morals of hunter and hunter – Ripper and police – is explored through representations of human redemption and salvation. An interest in moral degeneracy is discussed through shifting definitions of criminality and deviancy. Despite a pronounced desire to emphasize their difference, the paper argues that the similarities at the heart of these representations of criminal and victim, accused and accuser, enforcer and deviant, effectively blur and challenge singular notions of good and evil. As a result, the political role of the crime novel is posited as a necessary obligation rather than a personal gratification of the socially conscious contemporary British author.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWhat Happens Next? Twenty First Century Literature
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jul 2010
EventWhat Happens Next? Twenty First Century Literature - Lincoln
Duration: 5 Jul 2010 → …


ConferenceWhat Happens Next? Twenty First Century Literature
Period5/07/10 → …


  • david peace
  • contemporary fiction
  • british
  • novel
  • yorkshire ripper
  • crime


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