Tuesday, 13 August 2013



It knocks the wind out of you, reality does...     

Brothel bouncer Leon shouldn't be here. A week ago he stepped over the line, maiming a violent VIP punter. But he can't stay away. Not with his daughter Kelly being so young and vulnerable. If he can sort it out with Graven, take the punishment he knows he is due, maybe they can call it a debt paid. But when Kelly goes missing Leon realises what kind of debt is due.

All is not as it seems in this fast-paced novella from the author of Stairway to Hell and the acclaimed Royston Blake series.


"The Nerd urges you, dear reader, to get your hands on some Graven Image toot-sweet, to let Leon take you on a journey through both the dark alleys of his hometown and those of his diseased brain. Granted, Leon's gonna give you a laugh now and then, but mostly he's just making sure this intense crazy train never slows for a second lest he get a horrifying moment to reflect."
- Nerd of Noir, Spinetingler

"Blends a blistering storyline with deep-lying themes of redemption and guilt, of men trying to do the right thing in hard circumstances, and manages to be thoroughly realistic, despite self-delusion on the parts of the narrator. On this evidence, the future of British crime writing is very bright indeed."
- Doug Johnstone, Big Issue Scotland


"So original that other writers must be gnashing their teeth in jealousy"
- The Guardian

"Charlie Williams has created a stunningly original noir world of his own"
- Jason Starr

"Deserves attention for sheer originality and complete disregard for conventional plot"
- Sunday Business Post

"Possibly the best British writer working today. He is the ideal adult humourist - someone whose jokes kick for the gut and often say far more than you realise upon a first reading - and he is also an astute modern commentator, someone with something to say about the darkness that is modern life"
- Russel D McLean

"Even through all of his offbeat humour, there is no mistaking that Charlie Williams is a writer who has something to say"
- Nicholas Blincoe

At 120-odd pages long this didn’t take too long to rip through - one afternoon at the weekend and it was done. It would be fair to say, from the comments above that selected others seemed to enjoy this a little bit more than I did.  

I have been a fairly big fan of Charlie Williams in the past and to date he is the only author I have met who has bought me a coffee in Borders and actually turned up at my workplace to drop off some books for me – twice in fact.  His Mangel books about the legendary Royston Blake – at least the four I have read – are fantastic books; very dark and funny with a unique take on small-town England with a hero unlike any you’ve read about previously.

Mangel books are as follows:
1. Deadfolk (2004)
2. Fags and Lager (2005) aka Booze and Burn
3. King of the Road (2006)
4. One Dead Hen (2011)
5. Made of Stone (2013)
(Note to self – look out for the 5th!)

Graven Image while I enjoyed it, for some reason just didn’t hit the same heights with me. Seemingly straightforward in its premise, Leon goes looking for his daughter, sensing that some form of retribution is inevitable, by the end we’re looking at a totally different scenario. A more expected finale would have on this occasion have worked better for me, but then Williams has never been predictable and that in part is his attraction.

Well worth a spin in any case.

3 stars from 5   

Unfortunately, Mr Williams didn’t even get to recover the cost of my cappuccino in royalties as I acquired this copy from the Readitswapit website.  


  1. Col - Thanks as every for your candid review. I have to agree with you that I prefer endings that are more 'in line' with the story. It's great to hear about it when an author is pleasant in person. To me that just adds to the reading experience. And there is that thing with the free coffee ;-)

    1. Thanks Margot, I wanted to enjoy it more but....
      Maybe read at a different time and in a different mood it would have had me enthusing at the outcome.

  2. Col, I will have to look into the Mangel books by this author. You keep introducing me to new authors.

    By the way, my husband saw the Q post for the Crime Fiction Alphabet and he ended up buying two books by Peter Quinn. Hour of the Cat and the next one. I hope we like them. And I ended up finding two books set in New York's Chinatown at the same time, so we are buying too many books lately.

    1. Not long now until September! Hope the Quinn's work out, plus you've reminded me I still haven't acted on the Chang recommendation.

  3. I must agree with Tracy, you keep introducing all these new and exciting writers. I appreciate it. Thanks for this review and great story, too., btw. An author just dropping by your workplace to drop off books? I don't hear stories like this everyday.

    1. Keishon, cheers. I don't think I could do anymore name-dropping now. Did I tell you about the time Ken Bruen and me went....only joking!

  4. Thanks for the review, Col. Sounds like a fairly good story in spite of the familiar plot and must be crisply written too considering it's just 120-plus pages. Charlie Williams is another new author for me.

    1. No problem Prashant......I'm guessing Williams hasn't captured the imagination in India just yet? He's worth a look if you get a chance to.

    2. Col, I haven't seen his books in Indian stores but I'm sure they're probably somewhere on the bookshelves. One can always place an order both physically and online.

    3. Do you have to pay loads on overseas shipping when you order? Curtious.

    4. Col, we pay the rupee equivalent of the dollar price, as the books are ordered by the bookstore. I'd probably pay for shipping only if I ordered a book from Amazon or B&N which, I think, works out more expensive than the cover price of the book. Amazon has now officially come to India through a joint venture with an Indian firm. On the other hand, ebooks are cheaper and convenient and I have downloaded a few.

    5. Interesting, thanks Prashant. Amazon tentacles getting everywhere...but if it offers savings to the consumer, I'm not going to argue against it.