? Deadfolk
Charlie Williams, Deadfolk, Dead Folk, Fags and Lager, Mangel, Serpent's Tail, Crime Fiction, Crime Novel, Novelist, UK
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No-one leaves Mangel. Not alive anyway.

Royston Blake is the Head Doorman of Hoppers Wine Bar & Bistro. He drives a Capri 2.8i and can walk down the street in Mangel knowing he's respected by one and all. But now there's a rumour out that Blake's lost his bottle. Even Sal's heard the rumour. What's more, the Muntons are after him and the thought of ending up in the back of their Meat Wagon is almost too much to bear. Something's got to give.

Following advice from best mate Legsy, Blake embarks on a plan designed to re-establish his reputation as a hard man, ensure his everlasting appeal to women and seal his future with the new owner of Hoppers (even if he is an outsider). The logic is sound - knock Baz around a bit and regain the respect of Mangel's populace.

But sound logic never really took off in Mangel.


DEADFOLK is the first of a series set in the backwoods English town of Mangel. Originally published in 2004, the latest edition came out on May 10th, 2011.

DEADFOLK was shortlisted for the Prix SNCF du Polar.

DEADFOLK has been translated into French (two versions), Italian, Russian and Spanish.

What people said
about Deadfolk

What the author said
about DEADFOLK

DEADFOLK at Amazon.co.uk (paperback or Kindle)

DEADFOLK at Amazon.com (paperback or Kindle)



What they said about Deadfolk

"An ill-educated, thuggish pub doorman who has never stepped outside his one-horse West Country town (no one ever leaves Mangel!) is not an obvious narrator for a literary novel, but in Royston Blake, Charlie Williams has come up trumps. Not that Blake is a bloke you would want to have much to do with, mind. He has a tendency to get into fights, see a fog descend before his eyes and come to some time later realising that he's killed someone - again. For "deadfolk" litter the streets of Mangel before the story is out, and Blake gets deeper and deeper into trouble as he tries to cover his tracks in this heartily original noirish debut, related in a rich West Country vernacular. It all starts with rumours that the notorious Munton family, with their ominously named Meat Wagon ("I'd rather be knifed in the guts than put in there"), are after Blake - and that he's "lost his bottle". The indignant Blake sets out on a hilarious misbegotten mission to save his reputation and establish ownership of Hoppers Wine Bar and Bistro, while bedding as many women as possible along the way. He makes the insipid heroes of lad lit look like a bunch of big girls' blouses. The more politically correct among you can read this as social comment, the rest can just enjoy the ride."
- Rachel Hore, The Guardian

"What a brilliant sustained piece of work. I knew from the opening riff on the kebab that I was in business. Everything I love and so rarely get is there - dementia, out loud hilarity, characters to die for and I swear I used to drink with"
- Ken Bruen

"Blakey is the hulking bruiser at the centre of Williams' astounding debut. Written in a sort of once-upon-a-time-in-the-West-Country vernacular, it describes a few days in the life of nightclub bouncer and bottler-in-denial Blake. Despite the assortment of scum, scrubber, and socipaths he swims with, Blake comes across as a real anti-hero for our times, a lager-fuelled out with no good points worth mentioning. Although it appears a simple tale of country bumpkins with chainsaws, the plot unfolds in deliciously vindictive detail, the reasons for hard man Blakey's fall from grace clearer with every chapter. Williams's eye for criminal vulnerability never stops roving, from the monkey wrench stowed in Blake's "leather" to the faulty power steering on his ancient Ford Capri. Deadfolk is horribly funny - the "press" reports had me in stitches - but it is definitely not for the faint-hearted. I can't wait for the next installment"
- Simon Harding, Western Daily Press

"Plenty of memorably grim moments"
- Wayne Burrows, The Big Issue

"A mini masterpiece... A murderous adventure full of colourful and seriously deranged characters"
- Tony Larner, Birmingham Sunday Mercury

Highly entertaining debut... Williams shines at painting a portrait of a ghost town barely hanging on, mired in ordinariness but full of life nonetheless. And the black humor is a constant here, ensuring that the story never becomes depressing or bleak. Deadfolk is an idiosyncratic and fresh crime novel that establishes Williams as an author to watch. Mangel may be a town that its citizens cannot escape, but the vitality and edginess of this debut will eagerly bind readers to the prospect of future installments"
- Sarah Weinman, January Magazine

"Hilarious, perfectly paced, filled with intriguing characters, and held together by a great plot"
- Allan Guthrie, Waterstones Books Quarterly

"Royston Blake, Head Doorman at Hopper’s Wine Bar & Bistro, somewhere in London’s West Country, wouldn’t know a bright idea “if it did a shite in my pocket.” Which is exactly why I like him, and why this comic noir from cult favorite Williams makes such perfect sense in a world where the shite is everywhere but in your pocket"
- Bill Ott, Booklist

"Writing in a pitch-perfect voice, with a cast of lovable losers and lowlifes we’ve never seen before, Charlie Williams has created a stunningly original noir world of his own. Demented, hilarious, and near impossible to put down, Deadfolk may be the closest thing to the Jim Thompson style of crime novel Britain has ever created"
- Jason Starr

"Carnage, chaos, and a chainsaw called Susan add to this remarkable debut, which marks the appearance of a totally new voice in British fiction"
- Grab, Buzz Magazine

"Putting the narrative in the hands of a monosyllabic thug may not seem the wisest course for a young writer on his first novel. But Williams carries it off brilliantly. Blake's bleakly comic narration perfectly mirrors his basic take on life, whilst at the same time laying bare the often chilling logic of his pathology. The dialogue too, cleverly regionally unspecific, is spot on. The pace is swift, the plot well thought out, even a shade Hitchcockian here and there (a 'doofer' is crucial to later developments). It's a gory story of course, at times shockingly violent (a chainsaw called Susan makes a memorable appearance), one of assertive masculinity at its most basic and brutal. Williams's final masterstroke is the setting he creates for Blake, his birds and his mates. Mangel (was ever a place so appropriately named?) with its districts of Norbert Green, Muckfield and East Bloater is something like the tenth circle of hell for, as everyone knows, 'no-one leaves Mangel'. Indeed as the latter litany is repeated, time and again, the place, whilst never losing its uncomfortable resemblance to that benighted community not far from where you (and I) live, begins to take on an almost mystical significance. It's another reason why I look forward to the next book in what Charlie Williams has described as a trilogy. A noir trilogy, surely a contradiction in terms? Not, I suspect, when it's set in Mangel"
- Bob Cornwell, Tangled Web

"Williams writes with genuine finesse and a streak of black humour a mile wide... Deadfolk grows deeper and funnier with repeated reading"
- Ray Banks, Noir Originals

"It's hard to believe the brutal images that escalate before your very eyes... and you're left wanting more"
- David Chapman, Worcester Evening News

"Excellent debut... The whole set-up of Mangel gives a feeling of nightmare familiarity of small country towns, yet the odd street names, East Bloater Road for instance, conjure up a parallel universe or a comic book unreality. The chatty style, tongue-in-cheek humour and the non-specific dialect allow for a crime novel that has its own voice, doesn’t follow a tradition and isn’t trying to be literarily pretentious. But where Williams really triumphs is in the portrayal of Royston. Here is a man who should be universally loathed; he is violent, small-minded, vain, cold and indifferent, yet when he loses his power — his 'hardness' — and the town starts to see him as weak, I found myself actually feeling a bit sympathetic for the bastard. Recommended summer reading for those who have escaped or want to escape from a small town, or those living in the big city who mistakenly think that there is a quiet life out there in the country"
- MJ Smout, Barcelona Review

"It’s a scary mirror Charlie Williams holds up to life in rural England, though it’s scary in the best way of crime novels, a distorted fairground sort of mirror of a very English and contemporary kind"
- Carrie McMillan, Tangents

"A riotous yet horrifying trip... a completely original work, well-plotted, great dialogue, fast paced with touches of tenderness edging around the dark center."
- Maddy Van Hertbruggen, I Love a Mystery

"Imagine, if you will, the comparatively genteel Midsomer Murders transplanted to darkest Somerset and given a delight in excess worthy of Tarantino, the whole dripping with pitch black comedy and panache. Oh, and then tell it in a West Country vernacular. It is the first person narrative that makes the book, drawing the reader in from the get go and, while never becoming someone we might actually like, Royston Blake is a beautifully realised character, someone who is totally believable on his own terms and whose fight to rise above the obstacles that confront him we can identify with, even feel a twinge of empathy as the shit keeps on coming, most of it really not his fault... Overall this is a compelling and highly enjoyable, albeit not for the squeamish, debut from writer Charlie Williams, who delivers a tour de force exercise in narrative voice and sets those mean streets along which a man must walk in a refreshingly different locale."
- Peter Tennant, The Third Alternative

"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 right now. A strong debut sure to attract devoted fans... The real triumph of DEADFOLK is Royston Blake himself, a thug not quite aware of his own limitations. We feel for him, flinch on his behalf as he continues to endure bad luck and make poor decisions. I was impressed by this novel, and look forward to Williams' next book FAGS & LAGER."
- Victor Gischler, Crime Spree

"Fantastically charged and ludicrously violent debut... Brutally violent, brutally funny and as powerful a whack across the swede when you’re standing at the bar on a Saturday night, Deadfolk is highly recommended"
- Russel McLean, Crime Scene

"There is a dark heart to England, a claustrophobic core of oddity and violence. Deadfolk comes straight from this English heart, and even through all of its offbeat humour, there is no mistaking that Charlie Williams is a writer who has something to say"
- Nicholas Blincoe




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