Here’s a curio that has become something of an obsession of mine. It’s a question I’ve found myself asking repeatedly recently and getting a lot of blank looks in return. Kind of like when you dream about something and only realise it was a dream when no one knows what you’re talking about.
But… have you ever heard of Chuck Loyola?
His novel, BLOOD LIBEL ?
Just me, then.
You see, I’d think it was just something I’d dreamed, if it wasn’t for the battered paperback that’s been on my shelves – various shelves, in various countries – since 1990, and is now sitting on my desk.
It’s real. I’m not imagining it. I’m flicking through the pages once more and feeling myself drawn into its story again – which is what always happens.
Published 20 years ago (I bought it October 1990, according to the scribbled note on the title page) BLOOD LIBEL is a cracking inner-city noir, which sets up Howie Earls – an idealistic black journalist working on a listings magazine – against an array of foes in the shape of crooked local councillors, violent political gangsters, satanic child abusers, and a one-eyed killer called the Cyclops.
Howie is also up against his own boss, hapless magazine publisher Ben, who’s in over his head and has a pathological fixation with getting sued.
But down these mean streets a man must walk, and ask questions, and get beaten up. A lot.
I first came across the book in Birmingham’s Other Bookshop, that small left wing book store in Digbeth, and I always wondered if BLOOD LIBEL was set in Birmingham (the city is never named). But there were a few pointers to Manchester as well. Enough to make you wonder.
I asked people about it over the years but no one had ever heard of it. And I’ve routinely wandered over to the L section of any bookshop I’ve been in and scanned the shelves, looking for a sequel.
And now that we have the internet, and Amazon, the book is still nowhere to be seen.
It seems that Chuck Loyola and his character Howie Earls have disappeared from the face of the earth.
So I’m putting this out there.
Does anyone else have a copy of this book?
Does anyone know if Chuck Loyola wrote any more crime thrillers?
Does anyone know anything about Chuck Loyola?
In this information superhighway age, there must be a chance of sharing information about this obscure little chapter of British noir history and maybe, like Howie Earls in the novel, unearthing a few secrets and exposing them to the light.
Anyone who knows anything, post below, or email me directly.
I’m all ears.