Three cheers for the publishing house Telos, which is making available again a body of work which should never be out of print: the sharp and witty crime novels of Mike Ripley, featuring the sardonic and fast-talking Fitzroy Maclean Angel, the most reluctant private eye in British detective fiction. As ever, the emphasis in the books is on entertainment rather than threat, and both of the books listed here are effortlessly entertaining and often very funny. What gives both books their distinctive individual flavour is the combination of nicely observed detail of character and locale interspersed with moments of chaotic hilarity — although the latter is always done within the realms of plausibility (think: Tom Sharpe, with added crime). In Angel in the House, the beleaguered sleuth is chafing at the thought of parenthood and is persuaded by his fashion designer wife to join a private detective agency – one, moreover, that has previously only employed women. The plot throws in stolen Botox and Russian sailors selling elderly classic cars, all handled with the edge we expect from Mr Ripley. Angels and Others (as the title suggests) is a collection of short stories which sports the gloss of an author’s introduction. The thirteen tales here are all insidiously diverting, and six of them feature the incorrigible Angel. The first of them, ‘Ealing Comedy’ (the title suggests one strand of Ripley’s enthusiasms) is the first new short story to appear over fifteen years. Another bonus is first publication of an unfilmed TV adaptation of an Angel novel. Ripley enthusiasts need not hesitate.

Angel in the House & Angels and Others by Mike Ripley are published by Telos

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