Monday, November 25, 2013

Angels From Hell

Angels From Hell
Angel Chronicles 1
by Mick Norman (aka Laurence James)
1973 New English Library

It's future year 197-.  Biker violence has resulting in the erosion of civil liberties and the rise of vigilante gangs.  While set in the future, it's really more of an alternate present - think Clockwork Orange.

Only a handful of bike gangs remain, including the Last Heroes chapter of the Hell's Angels.
An art student turned soldier decides that society needs shaking up, so he decides to join up with his girlfriend.  We're treated to the cliched initiation before fast forwarding several months.

The upstart is challenging the leadership of the group, wanting to bring discipline to make the Last Heroes a money making criminal enterprise, while others in the gang prefer the chaos.

The short novel is basically three set pieces.  A banker has his daughter kidnapped and ransomed off.  It doesn't end well for either of them.

Next, an exploitation film director wants to use the Last Heroes as extras in his upcoming film.  The cast and crew are pretty much all gay because, you know, Hollywood.  The gay male lead makes some passes, while the gay female lead plays the tease.  You can guess how that ends up.

The police are closing in on the Last Heroes, but they strike back in a bloodbath that kills fifty cops.  This makes them folk heroes, and they ride out to join a mythical lost Welsh bike gang.

James Laurence was the editor for New English Library, which produced tons of excellent exploitation.  There's some sex, which is not as graphic as the violence, with heads being tossed around aplenty.

While not incredibly explicit, the novel is definitely nasty in tone.  There are little touches, like mentioning that a cop's wife is having an affair and won't miss him as he's being murdered

You can tell Laurence is having fun with it, and plays around with the form as he goes.  He breaks the fourth wall, stops to go inside the heads of the characters, and uses transcript and screenplay format in places.

The good news is that the Angels series is available on the cheap through Amazon.  The bad news is that, like other fellow NEL products such as Richard Allen's Skinhead series, the OCR and formatting is criminally poor.  Random characters, about a third of the punctuation is missing, and about half the novel is underlined.

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