I don’t know what possessed me to read this book  seeing as it’s the second in a series where the first one was a bit shit, and the series evidently didn’t catch on first time around because it ended after the third book. But….. how can I put this? Reading Fallen Angel was the literary equivalent of eating a McDonald’s cheeseburger or gutter-gaming a gook: a squalid guilty pleasure precisely because it was a bit grotty.
I dunno, doesn’t Karl Jung talk something about the ‘shadow self’? Isn’t there a strain in psychology discussing the death wish  and our atavistic tendency towards occasional self-debasement? If I remember correctly, life in the Garden Of Eden was just lovely until Adam decided to eat the forbidden fruit and begin the fall of mankind. Anyway, my point being that my reading trashy books is an expression of a long lineage of self-destructive human behaviour.
That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.
So imagine my surprise when this book turned to be good fun. Yes, The Werewolf Walks Tonight was a solid afternoon’s read. Not literature, and certainly not award-winning, but fun to read. Authors say you can ‘find the book in the writing of it’ and I think that’s what happened with Michael Avallone in his series. Book one started very clunkily indeed and didn’t find its way until halfway through. Book two also starts feebly but picks up much earlier. That got me speculating about the conditions under which Avallone wrote.
I have a writer friend nicknamed Juggernaut due to his resemblance to the Marvel villain  who had the good grace to edit volume three of my memoir Younger Hotter Tighter. “It starts unsteady but really hits its stride during the Brazil chapters” he told me. “And your introductions are shit.” Should I rewrite it, I asked. “Nah man. Editing is gay. Go on to the next book. Learn by writing.”
I absolutely believe writers find their books by writing. Even the fantastically talented Erle Stanley Gardner began his Perry Mason series with a couple of clunking chapters. You need time with your characters and precis until you work out how it’s meant to hang together. Some writers are perfectionists so they’ll write the book and then, having found it, go back to the beginning and rewrite it in the new style. A prolific hack like Michael Avallone ain’t got no time for that. He wrote over 220 books and you don’t do that by looking backwards, do you Sonny Jim? By the time his editor was checking out chapter one of Fallen Angel, he was likely halfway through The Werewolf Walks Tonight.
It was really apparent from book one that Avallone doesn’t rewrite his books. I suspect his editors had a big polishing job ahead of them. Reading The Werewolf Walks Tonight was like watching a boxing rematch – round one is really round thirteen. The guys already know each other, and have already adapted.
The story here concerns a tiny town in the Deep South called Fletcherville. The body of their priest is found in the forest with his throat ripped out, and soon after three more bodies are found. The injuries look inhuman, like the savaging of a wild beast, and word spreads there’s a werewolf on the loose. The Satan Sleuth, Philip St George, perks up his ears and goes to investigate. What follows is more like a murder mystery than an actioneer and it felt a little like a low-rent Matt Helm story. It’s short and doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. The combined Deep South atmosphere, multiple perspective characters, and supernatural overtones hang together long enough to produce a satisfying conclusion. The pace never drops.
I’m going to give Avallone another chance because I’m starting to think we got off on the wrong foot together with Fallen Angel. The guy writes full-blooded and without faggotry, getting straight to the point. Kindle Unlimited showed me he has a thirty-volume hard-boiled detective series so I’m curious to see how he handles different genres. If he’s the American John Creasey, I’ll be all over it.
It appears my books are all on Amazon now, for worldwide sale. They must run an automated script to pick up Ingram distributed books. Anyway, it’s good news because you can now get full colour latest editions of my books, hardcover or softcover, and save a packet on postage too. Let me know how the ordering process goes. Customers in the USA are still better off going direct to my Ingram sales page, as you’ll get exactly the same thing but faster and at no extra cost. Click here to know what products I’m selling.
 Excuse the pun.
 No, not the cool movie series.
 Friend is perhaps stretching it. More like an acquaintance. Or hanger-on.