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Deadfolk (The Mangel Series) [Kindle Edition]

Charlie Williams
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Royston Blake is head doorman at Hoppers Wine Bar & Bistro in the backwater English town of Mangel. He drives a Ford Capri 2.8i and can walk the streets of his town knowing he's respected by one and all—until a rumour begins to circulate that Blake's “lost his bottle.” Even his sharp-tongued girl, Sal, has overheard the talk that the formerly fearsome bloke has gone soft, lost his edge, and become a pushover in a town where he can ill afford it. To make matters worse, the violent Munton brothers are after him, and the thought of ending up in the back of their bloody Meat Wagon is almost too much to bear. Something's gotta give, but it sure as hell won’t be Blake. Following advice from his best mate, Legsy, Blake embarks on a plan to re-establish his reputation as a hard man, ensure his appeal to the women of Mangel, and seal his future with the new owner of Hoppers. The logic of the plan is sound: knock around Baz Munton a bit and regain the respect of Mangel's populace. But sound logic never really took off in Mangel, and Blake finds he’s got his work cut out for him. This brutal black comedy introduces a wholly original voice to the ranks of contemporary literature’s most memorable protagonists.

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Product Description Review

A Q&A with Charlie Williams

Question: Can you sum up Deadfolk in no more than 25 words?

Charlie Williams: A small-town bouncer’s courage is questioned, undermining his self-image as a local big-shot. Taking some bad advice, he sets about trying to prove himself. Things don't work out.

Q: Can you sum up your "hero" Royston Blake in a couple of sentences?

CW: A violent, ignorant thug with delusions of grandeur. But can we blame him, considering his environment?  

Q: What was your motivation for writing your Royston Blake series?

CW: I had tried writing several novels set in the world I lived in, but none of those really caught fire. Then I started writing something new, and the main character’s voice came out stronger and more clearly than anything I had written. He seemed to be inspired by a few guys I used to know as a teenager, whose whole view of life revolved around a misplaced concept of what it is to be a man. Along with his voice came the setting--a hellish exaggeration of my home town (Worcester, U.K.) which insisted on being called Mangel. When the story started taking shape, I wanted it to be the British equivalent of one of those small town American noir novels by guys like Jim Thompson. Whether or not it turned out like that, who cares? It got the damn thing done.  

Q: There is a lot of "bad" language in Deadfolk and the other books in the series. Do you think this limits the readership?

CW: I hope not. Royston Blake swears a lot, as do many people around him. But he is not really aware of it--he uses swear words like punctuation, to fill gaps and give rhythm to his sentences. This is just the way his voice came to me, and I didn't want to tinker with it. We all think these words, Royston Blake just says them aloud. For him, there is very little divide between his thoughts and his speech. And his actions.  

Q: You write crime fiction from the criminal perspective. What is it about this that interests you?

CW: I have tried having a policeman or some sort of investigator as the hero, but those characters always turn bad on me and reveal themselves as worse than the guys they are chasing. I'm not sure if I can explain this obsession with "differently moralled" protagonists. Maybe it's because I can always see both sides of an argument, and it tends to be the accused/perpetrator/transgressor who has the more flexible outlook on things. Cops and other seekers of justice are always dogmatic. I guess I like dogmatic characters too, but only so I can show how absurd they are.  

Q: What do you think is the key is to getting humour right in crime fiction?

CW: I don't try to make things funny. I never look for a joke and never think "three pages without a laugh--I'm losing it!" But these moments just suggest themselves as I am writing, and I grab them and shine them up. I think a lot of writers shut themselves off from that side. Many crime writers seem to think their work has to be grim and 100% serious--"we are dealing with REAL HUMAN TRAGEDIES here, folks. It's NOT FUNNY." I say it is funny. Remember at school, when the teacher was talking about something of the utmost gravity, and you caught that look from your classmate? You have to laugh, don't you? You know you shouldn't--that it's the most inappropriate thing to do--but that only makes it funnier. It makes it the funniest thing in the world.  


Plenty of memorably grim moments along the way (Big Issue)

It's a completely original work, well-plotted, great dialogue, fast paced with touches of tenderness edging around a dark centre. Deadfolk is a book that the reader who prefers noir over nice will certainly appreciate (I Love A Mystery)

If you value a strong voice, keen sense of place, and fully fleshed-out characters, then Deadfolk by Charlie Williams is for you. Go buy it now (Crime Spree)

Brutal violence in small market towns is largely uncharted territory in the world of fiction and Williams manages to find his own unusual way of dealing with it (New Books Mag)

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 451 KB
  • Print Length: 285 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1935597477
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (10 May 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0047O2S6E
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #144,227 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Born in Worcester in 1971, Charlie Williams has written seven novels that have been published in five languages. Most belong in the crime category but there is often overlap with horror, sf and just plain weird, with no real game-plan to fit into any genre at all.

The Mangel series (DEADFOLK, BOOZE AND BURN*, KING OF THE ROAD, ONE DEAD HEN and MADE OF STONE) are all narrated by Royston Blake, head doorman at the premier nightclub in a hellish small town. Each was written so it stands alone and can be read independently of the others. The Guardian said of them "this is gloriously funny stuff and so original that other writers must be gnashing their teeth in jealousy".

STAIRWAY TO HELL is about a pub singer who finds out his body hosts the transmigrated soul of David Bowie, courtesy of some 70s voodoo by Jimmy Page. Although fiction, the story was based around true events. Go to and check the Stairway to Hell page for more on that.

Other works include GRAVEN IMAGE (a novella about a brothel bouncer with a debt to pay) and YOUR PLACE IS IN THE SHADOWS (a collection of six short stories).

All of these books have received great reviews, some of which you can read here on Amazon. But steer clear if you hate swearing or love political correctness.

* original UK title: FAGS AND LAGER

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compulsive, surreal but somehow believable 14 Jan. 2013
By YeahYeahNoh TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Books written in the first person often fail to deliver when the words used in the narration don't match the character from which they are supposed to originate.
The big strength of this book is that the words perfectly match the character. There's no sudden descriptive passages worthy of Dylan Thomas in-between rites of thuggery, and it's so much better for it too.
So, it's easy to get thoroughly drawn into the story of Royston Blake, and even though (thankfully) his imaginary world and mine don't overlap much, feel that I somehow understand what he's going through. The book plays with lovely little moments when we can see what's going on, but it's going right over the head of our narrator.
The story is set in a non-descript British town, and involves some violence and thuggery, which might not be to everyone's taste, but for me none of this is overplayed (no long descriptive passages of gore, for example) - again, adding to the story rather than detracting.
I picked this up following the rebranding (I'm so shallow) - having been taken by the minimalist cover design - I'm glad I did.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Williams delivers the goods! 18 Jun. 2004
By A Customer
Reading DEADFOLK, by Charlie Williams, gives you the same euphoric thrill you got the first time you saw a Coen Brothers or Quentin Tarantino movie. You devour it with the same gaping astonishment which accompanied your first Jim Thompson or Chuck Palahniuk book, your first (early) Scorsese movie. DEADFOLK doesn't depict smooth-talking LA gangsters, or New York City lowlifes, but tells the story of Royston Blake, head doorman of Hopper's nightclub in the town of Mangel, England. An anti-hero unlike any you've experienced before, it is Blake's astoundingly unique voice as he guides us through this tough world which makes us want to stay with him; his flaws and mistakes make us laugh and cringe, often simultaneously.
This journey into the black heart of small-town England shows a chaotic, seething underbelly of life most of us would cross the street to avoid. By turns hilarious and disturbing, Blake's business with the notorious, terrifying Munton brothers is interspersed with robbery, murder, and explosive violence, with a climax which leaves us feeling thrilled for the discovery of this novel, and relieved we didn't get hurt along the way.

P. Robinson.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smashing! 19 Nov. 2010
Royston Blake is god. Well, in his own mind he is. The head bouncer at Hooper's Wine Bar is the king of Mangel, a dead end town somewhere in the north of England. In the first of a cracking series of books, Royston is dragged by his lapels into a series of funny and increasingly violent scrapes. This book will change your life in a way Paolo Coelho never will.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars laughter in the worst possible taste 30 Dec. 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is the first in the series and a real romp of violence, stupidity and humour. I have read all of Charlie Williams' Mangle books and adored them. I don't doubt that despite the gripping storyline lots of people will find the black humour, slang and swearing off putting but this only adds to the 'realism' of the vile world inhabited by the disfunctional, yet familiar, characters of small town England.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
Welcome to the inimitable world of 'Royston Blake'. Head doorman of Hoppers Wine Bar & Bistro, Blake sees himself as a well respected and feared resident in the town of Mangel, until that is rumours spread that Blake has lost his 'bottle'. So begins a journey into mindless violent oblivion, with Blake and his trusty (ish) Ford Capri driving the plot forward at a relentless pace.

'Deadfolk' works on many levels. At times immensely comedic, at others breathlessly violent and often both simultaneously, it is a brutal take on modern British crime fiction. A black comedy at heart, what makes Deadfolk stand out from other similar efforts, is the innovative writing style Charlie Williams incorporates into the prose.

Second only to the main character, the town of Mangel is of great importance in this book. Whilst it may have been based in the West Country by the author, Mangel is translatable to so many places. Most of us will know a town similar to Mangel, a sink estate no one could aspire to live in. However, the heart of a town such as this is still apparent. If you've lived or worked in a town like Mangel you will recognise the character of the place, (on a personal level, it reminded me of an estate on Merseyside where I lived for a while in my childhood called Leasowe), which you will end up picturing whilst reading about Royston's adventures within.

In other hands, the protagonist Royston Blake would be wholly unappealing and unreadable. A horrific character who embodies sexism, political incorrectness and the use of violence as par for the course. However, Williams manages to create a well-rounded and original anti-hero. He may do and say things detestable to the general population, but as a reader you cannot help but feel pity for the character.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great in parts, not so great overall 8 May 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book annoyed me so much in the first couple of chapters that I put it down and didn't return to it until I was hard up for a read a few weeks later. The narrative (first person by Blake the main character) seemed like a constant stream of consciousness rather than a proper story, but once I got over that and slipped into the thought process and constant colloquialisms, I started to enjoy the story.

The thing that made this book enjoyable for me overall, despite some elements I couldn't like, including the main character, was the excellent supporting cast that the author uses to effectively flesh out and humanise a pretty poor Main character in Blake. These supporting characters brought the book alive for me.

The main character and the overall story reminds me a little of Irvine Welsh's "Filth" but a bit less interesting.
I might revisit Blake and Mangle in future, and would definitely give a different type of story from the author a go as his writing is funny, touching and engaging at times.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A decent read: funny, sordid and violent.
A decent read: funny, sordid and violent. Charlie Williams is England's answer to Irvine Welsh.
Published 4 months ago by The Roman
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun but foul
enjoyable read and quite amusing at times. I probably won't read any more of the Mangel series because I found it depressing reading about such irredeemable characters. Read more
Published 11 months ago by MonkeyMan
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for me
Sorry. this book is well written but i didn't like the characters, didn't get the point and couldn't finish it(very rare for me)
Published 11 months ago by Elaine Tomasso
5.0 out of 5 stars Literary Marmite!
This series will really divide people, and I can see both sides. If you find films like "Lock, Stock etc" have too much swearing then these books won't be for you. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Mark ANTROBUS
4.0 out of 5 stars well-written, but brutal material
once I started reading it I had to finish the book, a bit like looking at a car crash. An insight into another world that I don't want to see any more of as it was too gruesome for... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Mrs Mary A Gribble
4.0 out of 5 stars Grizzly murders; no mystery.
Extremely well written from the point of view of an uneducated member of the local community of Mangel. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Richard
1.0 out of 5 stars Hated it.
Not a single likeable character. The author must be of the belief that violent actions and foul language is a substitute for an interesting plot. They are not. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Paul Kerr
4.0 out of 5 stars Something different
A very refreshing read with unreal circumstances presented in a humorous and infectious manner. Keeps you smiling all through it..
Published 17 months ago by Delboy
1.0 out of 5 stars Not for me
Didn't bother reading this as the first book was so full of language which I found offensive and the style of writing wasn't my taste
Published 17 months ago by Heather Mount
1.0 out of 5 stars Alpha male rubbish
it's easy to read but there no clever twist, the story doesn't keep your attention. Just someone fantasy of a so called alpha male. Give this and the rest of the series a wide miss
Published 17 months ago by Amazon Customer
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