Bloody Angels is a 25000 word novella from Endeavour Press and is the second case undertaken by Dr Parva Corcoran, my forensic pathologist investigator. Her first appearance was in my novelette Ward 19, which came out last year. Ward 19 did well enough for Endeavour Press that they wanted to see her involved in another case and I was happy to oblige. My crime influences are as much cinematic as they are literary, in fact quite possibly more so. I’m especially a fan of the Italian gialli and poliziotteschi movies of the early 1970s, as well as pretty much anything European from that period. It will therefore come as no surprise that I’m admirer of the work of Ernesto Gastaldi, who wrote the screenplays for many of the more complex and original EuroCrime movies. While I didn’t want Parva to be the kind of hard-drinking, hard-smoking central character those movies tended to feature, I relished the idea of writing a giallo-style storyline but basing it in Bristol, a city I live near and know very well indeed.
Around the same time that the call came through from Endeavour I happened to be watching another European exploitation film, this time by the cult director Jess Franco, who died very recently. Exorcism aka The Sadist of Notre Dame (1975) isn’t a terribly well made film, but it does have the intriguing plot idea of a defrocked priest who believes he is saving sinners by giving them absolution before he kills them, thus ensuring they will go to heaven. That isn’t the raison d’etre of my killer in Bloody Angels, but I really liked the idea of a series of killings with a religious connection. Once that was in place, all I had to do was dream up some horrible murders (always one of the best bits of the job!) and drop Parva into the mix to try and work out why the killings were taking place.
I’m a very disciplined writer, and once I knew where everything was going I had the book finished in about a month. The original title was ‘Angels With Bloody Faces’ but Endeavour wanted something a bit shorter and snappier so I condensed it to what it is now. I have to say I’m very pleased with the result and with the reviews the book has got so far. It’s very much intended to emulate the fast-paced, sometimes shocking, often outrageous feel of those old EuroCrime movies, with murder after murder and scarcely a breath allowed to be taken between them. The book is intended to be read in one sitting and I very much hope it leaves the reader breathless, entertained, and wanting more. Because there are plenty more strange and shocking cases out there for Parva to investigate.
John Llewellyn Probert’s Bloody Angels is published by Endeavour Press