The four books are Nineteen Seventy-Four, Nineteen Seventy-Seven, Nineteen Eighty, and Nineteen Eighty-Three. Wikipedia sums up thus: 'The novels deal with police corruption, set against a backdrop of the Yorkshire Ripper murders, and feature several recurring characters across the four books.' And Channel 4 say:
'The TV adaptation of David Peace's cult noir novels feature a stellar cast of celebrated actors including Sean Bean, Paddy Considine, Andrew Garfield, David Morrissey and Maxine Peake, the three feature-length films are set in Yorkshire during the 1970s and 80s - a time of paranoia, mistrust, corruption and the terrifying legacy of the Ripper murders.' (ETA - and I think I saw warren Clark in there too)
I'm reading the two books I've found around the house (nearly finished 1977, about to start 1983). I don't think I've got the other two. I tried to read them around the time they were published (1999-2002), and I increasingly look back on that time and realise how hard it used to be to concentrate in those days - physically I'm so much stronger and healthier than I was back then. I'm picking up these books that washed over me the last time I read them, and now they make sense.
But the funny thing is - I knew they were brilliant. I knew they were good, but I couldn't read them properly, and now I can. Very strange feeling.
I think these books have been extremely influential to other writers, including TV writers (yes Life on Mars) which paradoxically means the series might come over as derivative, when really it's seminal. Of course it is hard to say where the influence comes from. I think Peace is the most poetical crime writer of the lot.
I feel personal links to the stories of those days. I was 14 when the Ripper Killings started, and 19 when he was arrested. I went out with someone (Mike) who lived in Chapel Town, and I had a friend (Nickey) who had to be sectioned after a nervous breakdown because one of her friends was killed by him. We lived in the milieu of hitch-hiking, living in rough areas, and several of the women who died were my age at the time. It also ties in with the coarsening and brutality of social relations in the seventies, which led up to the election of Thatcher and the abandonment of any idea of post-war social cohesion, and the attitudes to women which stimulated feminism to become more assertive and radical.