Messenger has been reviewing
the’Angel’ books of Mike Ripley on
Amazon.uk for five years and even produced a ‘Top
Ten’ list. As she clearly
knows more about the books than the author, SHOTS asked her for this
Appreciation of Angel on the 20th anniversary of his debut in print.
lists the books in chronological order, including the latest, Angels Unaware which is published by Allison
Busby, with her own personal rankings in brackets.
were hurt and no money changed hands during the writing of this article.
'Elvis is dead!'
words and I was suckered,
willingly, into the world of one Fitzroy Maclean Angel during the
Mike Ripley with 007, an early fan.
I had been frequently disappointed
books that were part of a series; they always rely on you reading the
titles, but Angel was different. The books were linked, but
inexorably; the others just enhanced the experience, which I discovered
on the Inside.
Despite the fact
that Mike Ripley had an impressive set of cheerleaders; Colin Dexter, The Times
and...BBC Radio Suffolk, it was a series of books that had been
overlooked for a long time. The other books were incredibly
get hold of - I eventually got hold of all of them via Amazon, but not
tears, tantrums and a few broken fingernails. All worth
completed the collection in 2007, thanks to the re-release of the first
three. Okay, why weren't they at least considered for a TV
even just a one-off drama? Worse still, it was difficult to
even on the 'net, to have a decent conversation about them.
'Who?' was a
common answer I got, but more frequently, silence.
So who is Fitzroy Maclean
lives in East London, is a streetwise, thirty-something, good looking
a penchant for honest food, good bitter and sassy women, providing they
inexpensive, or can be claimed on expenses, and has an unnerving
ability to be
in the wrong place at the right time. Too ordinary? He drives a black cab he
plays jazz trumpet when he's allowed or is being paid
to, shares a
flat with a psychotic black cat called Springsteen and spends
trying to sidestep trouble only to find himself getting deeper into
He only really became an official Private Investigator in recent years,
he's seen more dead bodies in the years leading up to this than any
stomach can handle. Some of them he's even been responsible
Yes, despite the fact that Angel comes across as just the kind of guy
have a drink with, or at least be in the same bar, Angel has been
for seven deaths; but none can be pinned on him conclusively, or at
witnesses won't or can't talk - It's better to be lucky than good.
fact I haven't known him very
long, I do feel though that I know him better than most, as
get me reading the books again and again and again. I should
advice and get out more. I didn't read the books in
and for that reason, my bias is towards the ones that I read earliest,
couple of exceptions. My list on Amazon has changed slightly,
recent months, but the firm, and, so far, immovable top three are, in
I love them all
though, and no amount of begging, bribery or corruption will force me
rid of a single one. I have listed them with its standing in
favourites list in brackets. You may disagree, but as Time Out
said "Angel is like fine malt whisky, high proof and very addictive"
- true, but its a matter of taste whether you prefer the 12-year-old or
Just Another Angel (12)
Beware of one night stands, they
just might cause you
more trouble than they're worth. Angel manages to bed one who
happens to be married to a violent gangland villain, who might be a bit
if he finds out, but he has to run an errand for her first, which gets
unwanted attention from some very shady characters, not including the
with a grudge.
I think the only reason the book is
so low in the list
is because I read it that much later - but there are some masterful and
funny one-liners which still have me giggling. OK, I'm a bit
is as low as it is.
Angel Touch (14)
Angel shows just what he will do
for Old and
Distinguished Friends (particularly when he fancies the pants off
It all gets a bit personal when the friend is critically injured and
is dead. Time to bring in reinforcements.
No eighties set novel can be
complete without a
setting in the Stock Exchange, nor the most ridiculous of eighties
team-building activities - paint-balling - which gets a well
lampoon. We're also introduced to the incorrigible Francis
Angel Hunt (13)
Not all animals have four
legs. Angel gets
embroiled in the shady activities of Animal Activists after an old
drops in (literally). Unfortunately, he's dead. (Mostly)
First time I've read of a cat being
used as a weapon,
but not in a way you might think. In later books, Angel has
settled not very far away from where some of the scenes in
here are played
out. Maybe they will have forgotten Manderleygate.
Angels In Arms (9)
Werewolf is in big trouble - so
who's he gonna
call? Unfortunately for Angel, the trouble in question
consignment of some very naughty substances lost by a group of mad
liberationists who were buying it off an even madder
Dutchman. Time to
bring in the cavalry of about 100,000 (and two). And cope
with a rather
loud rock group.
plain farce of the best order. The characters in here are
delicious, and Angel is so very nearly upstaged by the unforgettable
Luger, who sadly does not appear in later books.
Angel City (11)
Oh the shame - Angel has to work
for a living after
spending most of his savings. Still, there is the opportunity
to keep the
rent man at bay, albeit that the work is definitely dodgy and he has to
with the homeless and hyperactive Christopher "Tigger"
When Tigger winds up dead and Angel gets his smile damaged, there is a
We finally find out what the
mysterious Mr Goodson
gets up to at the weekend, with the opportunity to have a pop at those
Dungeons and Dragons far too seriously.
Angel Confidential (10)
Along with a fresh set of teeth,
Angel gets to act the
proper PI for once, helping the newly fledged investigator Veronica
track down the reluctant Stella Rudgard. But what has Stella
into, and does daddy and his bent solicitor have secrets they would
come out in the open?
Maybe Angel rues the day he ever
"Ronnie" into his cab, but then again he would never have had the
opportunity to wreak havoc with some "classic" cars.
Family of Angels (7)
Angel's idea of family contact is
the odd Christmas
card (which he may remember one year). But now not
only has he got
to hunt down his brother and find out what he's been up to, he also has
time to do a job for "Big Mac" Macandy involving some missing diesel
and beer barrels. Oh, and also have sex at a hundred and
fifty miles per
Angel comes up against an old
enemy, and savours a
sweet smell of success.
That Angel Look (1)
A photographer acquaintance is the
victim of a bizarre
murder, and the finger is pointed at a group of girls just starting out
fashion industry, perhaps the most dangerous project Angel's
Oh - and he also has to stop war breaking out in Brick Lane.
just keeps on coming.
Why do I love this book so
much? Maybe it's the
painfully accurate description of the antics of women who go round in
threes. Or perhaps it's the manner in which our Roy finally
love, the old romantic that I am; irritated, confused and erm..cross
eyed. It could be that the novel contains the most quotable
quote in the
history of detective books, which I use to this day in my signature in
Bootlegged Angel (6)
God knows why Veronica thought of
Angel first when a
brewery manager wants someone to investigate some suspicious activities
pub in Kent. Or why Amy thought that she could trust her man
beautiful models, when he somehow becomes a reluctant landlord in need
Sometimes the characters in this
book are sober, but
none of them are sane.
Lights, Camera, Angel (3)
Of course, with such a well
connected wife (assistant
assistant consultant buyer, or something) it was only matter of time
Angel got into the movies. A vampire movie is receiving some
attention from some fans, and some strange accidents are occurring on
it becomes apparent someone is after Angel's neck.
When bloody Buffy nicks your name,
your chances of a series called Angel, there's only one thing you can
a book about a second rate vampire movie.
characters? Too right, this is the movies.
Angel Underground (5)
During a barbecue of roast pork at
his mothers, Angel
is conned into working as an arkie for an old buffer who apparently
has Boudica's grave in his back yard. But Arthur has a dark
then again, so does Amy, and just who keeps sending those Bible texts,
what is going on in the field next door?
Everything you need to know about
Angel On The Inside (8)
Angel is determined to find out
Amy's secret: but
she's not talking, so he has to endure a minefield of Welsh gangsters,
visit, Stella's hen night, a "cat loving" PI, Tom Sean Catti and a
solicitor who happens to be a bit of a pervert.
The Welsh get the best parts in
this one. Amy's
secret is finally out, but she has another surprise for him.
Angel In The House (15)
Angel has to become respectable and
get a job: where
else but Rudgard and Blugden? A rich entrepreneur wants to
plug the leak
of Botox from his laboratory in Cambridge, which just so happens to be
that the broody Amy wants to move to, so he somehow finds himself
some problems (or rather, problem) for an estate agents
too. And his
inconsiderate father suffers a stroke when he's about to marry a Page 3
Angel is a fish out of water, and
this one, but he doesn't flounder much, and sorts out the lot: even his
father. We also get a new regular character...the name is
Angels Share (2)
A respectable ex-Civil Servant
needs Angel's help
tracking down an old flame, but does he have a hidden agenda, and just
she react? He also has to cope with Amy's mood swings, his
life, and the matter of just how his mother will react to the fact
become a granny.
Although I am not Chandler's
biggest fan, even I
recognised shades of The Little Sister and Farewell
in this one. Another
new regular, Huddersfield's own Hoh-hoh-Seven, who makes Duncan the
sound like a moderate. It has a climax that had me not
knowing whether to
shriek, laugh or remember to start breathing again. Read into
Angels Unaware (4)
Angel finally becomes a daddy, but
he still has to
work as Amy is still nesting, and they both have to put up with
why is she outstaying her welcome? On the case, Angel has to
funeral of the mother of a missing scriptwriter, and the only trail is
dead bodies. Good job he has 007 to help.
many former novels can you refer to in one? Well, quite a few
some are obvious, some not so (I maintain one or two are missing, but I
there's a veiled reference to all of them). There are an
number of dead bodies in this one, including a major character, so get
Click Here For Angel Trivia by Mike Ripley
Click Here For The Angel Fansite