Mick Norman (Laurence James)
During the 1970s Mick Norman (a pseudonym for Laurence James – 1942-2004) wrote a quartet of very good Hell’s Angels novels. The central character of all four novels is an ex-army NCO turned Hell’s Angel, Gerry Vinson.
The first novel in the series is Angels From Hell:
Angels from Hell charts Vinson’s successful challenge for the leadership of the Last Heroes. Vinson wins the fight and becomes president of the Last Heroes. He takes his band of Angels to Wales, where he affiliates them with The Wolves, a legendary Welsh Hell’s Angel chapter.
The second novel in the series is Angel Challenge.
Here’s the back cover blurb for Angel Challenge:
‘A year or so has passed since the apocalyptic ending of Angels from Hell. The government has fallen and a new freedom wafts through the streets. From their hideout in the mountains of Snowdonia, Gerry Vinson leads his chapter – the remnants of ‘The Last Heroes’ combined with ‘The Wolves’ – on a run South. Back to London. Back to a city ruled by a new Hell’s Angels’ chapter – ‘The Ghouls’ – and terrorised by gangs of teenagers who crop their hair and ape the manners of the ‘Skinheads’ of the sixties. Gerry knows that there can only be one winner. He also knows that the price of defeat is likely to be death.’
The third novel in the series is Guardian Angels.
Here’s the back cover blurb for Guardian Angels:
‘A giant rock group tour is being planned, with top names from the United States, and security is the big problem with the promoters. How can they avoid the appalling violence from rioting fans, without jeopardising the lives of the security guards themselves? The Hell’s Angels seem the answer, and Gerry Vinson’s Last Heroes emerge from their Welsh retreat to do the honours. But the American groups have organised their own protection – an American chapter. The inevitable rivalry and ill-feeling is only averted when they are faced with a new threat – the satined and scented skulls.’
The final novel in the series is Angels on My Mind.
Here’s the back cover blurb for Angels on My Mind:
‘The Hell’s Angels are outsiders. They make up their own rules. They delight in perverting the ‘normal’ way of life and turn their backs on the rest of society. But for those who get in their way, and won’t let them have what they want, they have only one answer – violence. And even when the do-gooders step in to save lost souls, they find what goes on inside an ‘Angel’s’ head is too much. Stranger than fiction in fact. What started out as a crusade ends in death. The Angels swear revenge on those who betray them.’
These four Mick Norman novels – Angels from Hell, Angel Challenge, Guardian Angels and Angels on My Mind – were very successfully republished in an omnibus edition entitled Angels from Hell: The Angel Chronicles by Creation Books in 1994. The volume contained a very forthright and insightful introduction by Stewart Home.
Here’s the back cover blurb for Angels from Hell:
‘The four books in Mick Norman’s notorious Angel Chronicles: Angels from Hell, Angel Challenge, Guardian Angels and Angels on my Mind, are here presented in a single compendium edition, making available these classics of wild youth culture for the first time in twenty years. The Angel Chronicles present a vision of a nightmare near-future which is even more chillingly relevant now than when they first appeared.
‘England, turn of the millennium. Government repression has driven the Hell’s Angels underground; yet they still exist. The final outlaws. From their hide-out in the mountains of Snowdonia, Gerry Vinson leads his chapter, the Last Heroes into battle. Apart from police and government manipulation, the Angels must contend with The Ghouls – a satin-jacketed yet sadistic rival chapter – as well as unscrupulous rock promoters who need them as cannon fodder against the emerging breed of razor-wielding teen rock fans and, above all, the deadly new threat from gangs of strutting, scented, ultra-violent mod-skinhead hybrids: the skulls.
‘The result is a brutal, mythopoeic odyssey of sex, drugs, madness, betrayal and violent death; the outsider aesthetic taken to its logical extremes.’
On a personal note, I enjoyed reading these four novels. They are well-written pulp fiction which – along with glam rock music – helped to define youth culture in the 70s.
There are a few copies of Mick Norman’s books still available. If you like Hell’s Angel fiction, why not give them a try? You might enjoy them.