As dodgy English towns go, Mangel doesn’t look like much; but it’s everything to Royston Blake. In Mangel, Blake is head doorman at Hoppers Wine Bar and Bistro, drives a Ford Capri 2.8i, and generally has no trouble getting laid. On any given day, he can walk the streets of his town knowing he’s respected by one and all. That is, until a rumor begins to circulate that Blake’s "lost his bottle", and everything goes to hell. Even his best mates, Fin and Legsy, have heard the talk that the formerly hard-living bruiser has gone soft, lost his edge, and become a pushover in a town where he can ill afford it.
In the second installment of Charlie Williams’s violent and darkly comedic Mangel series, Royston Blake’s gig as head doorman at Hoppers finds him yet again mired belly-deep in trouble. Blake has noticed a change in the behavior of Hoppers’ already dodgy clientele - the norm of beery violence and lechery has given way to trance-like stares and nonsensical blatherings.
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Released after a three-year stretch in a mental institution, Royston Blake finds that the world has moved on, even Mangel. Gone are most of his old haunts, including Hoppers, where he spent years working the door. In its place: a huge, gleaming new shopping mall, servicing the town’s every consumer need. But not everyone is happy to see the old ways swept aside. A mysterious opposition group calling itself the "Old Guard" has made its mission abundantly clear on the letters page of the local newspaper, and soon sets about trying to recruit Blake as its agent of retribution.
When the world gets more frightening, what do you do? Do you hide in your basement, watching 24-hour rolling news about the latest crimes? And what happens when it comes knocking on your door? Do you double-check those locks? Or do what Hamlet did, taking arms against a sea of troubles and, by opposing, end them? Pub-doorman-turned-recluse Royston Blake has never heard of Hamlet, but when headless corpses start turning up all over Mangel, he decides to do just that. And what better way to fight evil than by becoming a cop? Who cares if they all say you’re the worst kind of copper a town needs? What matters is results, right?
There’s bad stuff out there. Folks reckon things like vampires don't exist, but they does - Jock from the burger van told me. Plus I found an actual one of ’em, sleeping at the time in the back of a hearse I nicked that first morning. That's how me and Jock got to setting out freeing the world of ’em, using his bag o’ wooden stakes and special bottles of whisky. Course, I knowed that vampires didn’t exist, not when I stopped and done some thinking. And I knowed Jock had mental wossnames, what with his son falling off that roof and him reckoning them immigrants pushed him.