Category Archives: PB Yuill

Straw Dogs (1971)

In Hazell Plays Solomon (which I reviewed here), the eponymous London PI ducks into a Leicester Square cinema for a break during a case. Even though the title is not given we are fairly sure that what is on the … Continue reading

Posted in England, Gordon M. Williams, Sam Peckinpah, Tuesday's Overlooked Film | Tagged , , , | 39 Comments

THE SIEGE OF TRENCHER’S FARM (1969) by Gordon M. Williams

A worm-that-turned story of revenge in a remote English community, this harrowing snow-bound thriller has been filmed twice as Straw Dogs – and greatly altered, much to novelist Gordon Williams’ displeasure. The frustration felt by the author is easy to understand given … Continue reading

Posted in England, Friday's Forgotten Book, Gordon M. Williams, Sam Peckinpah | 23 Comments

THAT ANGEL LOOK (1997) by Mike Ripley

The Alphabet of Crime community meme over at the Mysteries in Paradise blog this week reaches the letter T, and my nomination, is …

THAT ANGEL LOOK by Mike Ripley

“I resorted to one of my long-standing philosophical maxims and thought: Stuff this for a bunch of soldiers.”

What can you say about a crime novel in which the hero, despite being bright, articulate, University-educated and a worldly-wise musician, spends most of his time driving a black cab and working as a gopher? That this same protagonist, when he’s not getting pushed around by cops and drug dealers, is also clearly under the thumb of not just his ambitious girlfriend but also completely at the mercy of his vicious pet cat? That this is the kind of novel in which the leading ladies turn out to be either neo-Nazis, witches or Thatcherite scum? Well, for starters, you would have to accept that this is a paradoxical book, one that treats subjects such as racism without levity and yet has a wisecracking laugh-to-page ratio to make most hardboiled wordsmiths envious. Welcome to Angel’s world, which resembles London, England in the 1990s on the cusp of the Internet revolution. Continue reading

Posted in Crime Fiction Alphabet, London, Mike Ripley, PB Yuill, Scene of the crime | 4 Comments

H is for … HAZELL PLAYS SOLOMON (1974) by PB Yuill

The Alphabet of Crime community meme over at the Mysteries in Paradise blog this week reaches the letter H, so I nominate …


“My name is James Hazell and I’m the biggest bastard who ever pushed your bell-button”

And so begins the first in a series of three brisk novels (and one short story) featuring the East End of London’s answer to Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade and the Continental Op. It’s a great opening line, but not really that representative of the tone of the book as a whole, or of the lead character either come to that.

Hazell is 33, recently divorced, a recovering alcoholic and late of the Metropolitan Police Force (following a severe beating from a vicious gang of thieves who virtually destroyed his ankle). After hitting skid row (or the East End of London’s equivalent) he is trying to put his life back together as a private inquiry agent. Although undeniably tough (and emotionally immature) he is also far from being a total cynic – he has a lot more in common say with Ross Macdonald’ Lew Archer (featured in last week’s post) than cro-magnum PI’s like Mike Hammer and with considerably more humour than either. Continue reading

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