... masterful ... McDermid skillfully uses the newspaper articles to chronicle the events in Scotland, including a referendum on breaking away from the United Kingdom ... an enthralling novel and this series will, no doubt, be addictive.
Allie Burns is the engaging main character ... It’s the tone and the plot itself of 1979 that seems agreeably retro. There’s a single act of violence here, certainly more sad than gory or even, frankly, surprising. And sex, while it’s important to this mystery, is a topic that’s talked about among the characters with effort and, in keeping with the times, dramatized discreetly by McDermid ... as much a female bildungsroman as it is a suspense story—and that’s not meant to be a backhanded compliment. McDermid vividly summons up that young adult state of confusion (that many of her longtime female readers may recall) when brazenness alternates with bewilderment; when you insist that the world see you and simultaneously tell you who you are. This first novel featuring Allie Burns is the debut of a new series that will proceed decade by decade. I, for one, am eager to see how she has become more at home in her own skin, 10 years on.
... a remarkably vivid picture of the tabloid newsprint culture of 40 years ago ... McDermid can do edge-of-seat suspense better than most novelists. But what really lingers in the mind is the world she has created in 1979, long before the internet and the end of the Cold War. Among other things, she reminds us how much newspapers mattered in those days ... enjoy this excellent opener to what promises to be an outstanding series.
This chronicle chimes with authentic details of what it was like 40-some years ago for a young scribe. (Allie is inspired by the New Journalism of Tom Wolfe, while Danny admires the reportage of Woodward and Bernstein.) Ringing just as true are the treacherous newsroom turf wars, the sexist attempts to limit what Allie can write about, the Scottish laws against homosexuality that force Danny to keep his inclinations secret—and the drive to succeed that promises to see Allie through all manner of present and future difficulties.
As you turn the last page, I bet you will be happy to return to our turbulent present ... 1979 is classic Val McDermid and great fun from start to finish ... I especially loved the musical references and her inclusion of 'My 1979 Top 40.' It’s an impressive list, and I could have seen myself swapping mix tapes with her. There are musical references throughout the story, including one about my favorite Bruce Springsteen album, Darkness on the Edge of Town.
Her evocation of the Winter of Discontent is spare and skilful, never overloading the book with period detail. She adds references like bright brush strokes...creating a world which feels real but allowing the characters, not the period, to take centre stage. 1979 is more a chronicle of the times, and of the newspaper world, than it is a crime novel. While crimes are being committed, the pace and tension comes from the two young reporters winging it from scoop to scoop, rather than any sense that their work puts them in serious danger ... McDermid nails with precision the world she is writing about ... It’s hard not to feel just a little nostalgic for its passing.
McDermid was a journalist living and working in Glasgow in 1979, and she does a great job of capturing the atmosphere of the time—especially the brutal winter beset by strikes and power cuts and seething with political unrest—and she enlivens the narrative with much 'tabloidese' and her customary generous usage of Scottish idioms ... This absorbing tale ends with the promise of more about Allie from one of the UK’s masters of crime fiction.
... [a] sterling series launch ... The mutual attraction between Allie and Clarion editor Rona Dunsyre provides some romantic heat. McDermid does an excellent job capturing a time in Scotland’s history fraught with political unrest, IRA terrorism, and labor strikes that nearly paralyze the country. Fans will look forward to seeing more of the highly capable Allie.