by Marv Lachman

EDGAR WALLACE – Angel Esquire. Arrowsmith, UK, hardcover, 1908. Holt, US, hardcover, 1908. Reprinted many times in both hardcover and soft, including A. L. Burt, US, hardcover, 1927 [shown]. Available online here.

   More than eighty years after it was first published, Angel Esquire, Edgar Wallace’s second novel, remains surprisingly readable. Christopher Angel, an eccentric Scotland Yard detective, will remind you of Albert Campion in his early, silly-ass days, but he is often genuinely amusing, as well as resourceful: “Great fellow for putting things right … if you’re in a mess of any kind, Angel’s the chap to pull you out.”

   When he’s not working on a case, he sits at his desk working on a racing form, and he is not perturbed at all when the police commissioner comes into his office and finds him so occupied. Angel is the perfect sleuth for a far-fetched mystery involving master criminals, English gangsters, and an intricate puzzle that must be solved before the rightful heirs can receive several million pounds.

   Wallace seems to have had fun writing this book. He has a cyanide pellet carried by the villain as a jacket button, and in an inside joke he has Angel play poker with George Manfred, one of the Four Just Men from his first book. He even gives us the type of Tom Swiftie which was so popular in the early 1960’s when he writes of one character’s drink order, “‘Lemonade,’ he said soberly.”

— Reprinted from The MYSTERY FANcier, Vol. 11, No. 3, Summer 1989.

Bibliographic Note:   This appears to be the only appearance of Christopher Angel in book form. I have located a story “The Yellow Box” from The Story-Teller, March, 1908, available online here, so there may be more.