Forgotten Book Friday: Deadfolk By Charlie Williams

Royston Blake’s lost his bottle since the death of his wife, Beth. The head doorman at Hopper’s, the place to be in the English town of Mangel, Blake’s a man not to be trifled with. Unless you happen to be one of the Munton brothers. The Muntons don’t like Blake and are happy to remind him of it. Blake barely keeps his job. At least he has his Ford Capri 280i, a temperamental car that’s a classic as long as you treat it right.

Blake lives in a barren, hopeless cesspool of a town that, residents are convinced, you can never leave. No one leaves Mangel ever. It’s just a given. And with that, the residents tend to be a bit inbred, know everything everyone else is doing, and are distrustful of outsiders. Williams bases Mangel on Worcester (where they make the sauce).

So what’s a boy who’s lost his bottle to do when he lives in a dying one-horse town? He starts by killing one of his tormentors, Bax Munton. That’s sets off a chain reactions involving more murder, used women, and betrayal reminiscent of Jim Thompson. The women Blake seduces and uses aren’t the brightest, but then Blake’s not exactly a McArthur Grant candidate, either.

Deadfolk is the first of Williams’ Mangel Trilogy, followed by Fags and Lager and King of the Road.  Williams spends the book sending Blake to hell and has him nicely on his way by the end.  He saves Blake just enough to put him back through the grinder for the next book.