Fitzroy Maclean Angel

Created by Mike Ripley

“True love may be blind, but good sex sends you cross-eyed.”
— Angel on the meaning of life in That Angel Look

Move over, Carlotta Carlyle and Steve Midnight, and add London, England’s FITZROY MACLEAN ANGEL to the the ranks of cab-drivin’ PI’s.

Angel is a loopy, randy, trumpet-playing thirty-something ne’er-do-well/private eye-by-chance. Another in a long line of eccentric but pop-culture-aware Brits, Angel calls his trusty de-licensed black Austin FX4 cab Armstrong, his black cat Springsteen and his sleeping bag Hemingway (but of course, he has no name for his trumpet because that would be silly). He’s not really even a P.I. — that would just be too organized and planned for such an easy-going lad as our Angel. Still, he manages to bumble his way into that position often enough to qualify. And, what with a little under-the-table P.I. work, and a few illegal cab fares, plus an occasional gig as a roadie, minder, messenger. deliveryman and even occasionally some trumpet work, he seems to make do.

As might be expected, Angel has rather eclectic tastes in music, alcohol, certain controlled substances and friends. In fact, Angel’s friends arc as delightfully wonky as he is. There’s Lisbeth and Fenella, the beauty-and-the-beast lesbian couple downstairs; Werewolf, substance abuser and wildman extraordinaire; and Drunken Duncan, master mechanic. One of his favorite pastimes seems to be mooching records off friends to make tapes.

Both Angel Touch (1989) and Angel in Arms (1991) have won the Crime Writers’ Association Last Laugh Award for Funniest Novel, in 1989 and 1991 respectively. Rightly so, I say–they’re a hoot! And check out the non-Angel short story, “Lord Peter and the Butter Boy” for a refreshing take on Lord Peter Wimsey, Dorothy L. Sayers’ stuffed shirt detective.

Author Ripley (believe it or not) also co-edits (with Maxim Jakubowski) the Fresh Blood anthologies promoting new British crime writing. He’s reviewed crime fiction for The Daily Telegraph and for Publishing News, and currently contributes to Shots magazine, but as far as I know has never given up his day job in the brewing industry. A true delight, well-written and extremely funny, witty, but always human. And well worth seeking out.

Five pints.

STRAIGHT FROM THE AUTHOR’S MOUTH

A while back, Ripley made it very, very clear that the eighth book in the series, That Angel Look (1997), would be the last. And certainly, I didn’t seen any new books for a very long time after. But then I heard rumours that Ripley was busy adapting Angel In Arms for television for Granada. So, I figured maybe one day Angel would return… and it turns out I figured right, because I’ve just heard from some guy from England that’ Angel has indeed returned. And I think we can trust this guy…

I’m not surprised you’re having trouble finding my books in Canada as I used to be sold there direct by HarperCollins, but not since 1997. When HarperCollins dumped the series — they let me stew for a year before telling me — I had already written That Angel Look. Rather than waste a year (and a book) I sold it to The Do-Not-Press for an advance of £1 (one pound sterling). Yes, we were in a pub at the time.

Having slightly altered the ending so that Angel could be thought to have been killed off (ie. married), I thought that would be an end to it. However, some very kind reviews over here and the fact that the book (as an import) outsold the two titles published in the USA, brought an approach from Constable & Co. who asked for more.
They published Bootlegged Angel in 1999 in hardback in the UK but they were never very good at selling abroad and they didn’t do paperback editions at all.

BUT THEN (and I hope you’re paying attention because there will be a test later) Constable got taken over by a smaller, paperback house called Robinson, famous for “The Mammoth Book of…..crime stories, erotic stories, true crimes,” etc. etc.

The new company is Constable Robinson (they have a website) and the deal is Constable will do hardbacks, and Robinson will do mass market paperbacks, all in really garish jackets with guns, boobs and primary colours. Excellent.

In addition, my first non-Angel book comes out from The Do-Not-Press in April. This is Double Take – the novel and the script of the funniest caper movie never filmed about how to rob Heathrow airport.(Actually, it’s not really a novel but a story – a story overheard in a crowded pub on a Saturday night….)

Curiously, I have had several email enquiries from North American readers in the last month, asking what’s happened to Angel. I have just (Friday) fired my agent who, in two years, has not sold a single title anywhere abroad, although I am still in print in Japan (after 10 years!) and the first ones are around in Spanish and German. I see from this worldwidewebbything (I am new to the technology) that I am listed in numerous databases so maybe the fans are out there after all.

Thanks for continuing to fly the Angel flag.

Mike Ripley, January 2002

UNDER OATH

  • Of the final book, this is what had to say: “A fond and incredulous farewell to Ripley – one of the best crime writers braving the dark alley today – who vows that this will be his last novel. If true… it’s a great exit… Yeasty, funny and absolutely of its time with the usual batch of maxims to brighten your day. ”
    — Philip Oakes of The Literary Review on That Angel Look

NOVELS

COLLECTIONS

  • Angels and Others (2015)

RELATED LINKS

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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