Little did the browsing public suspect that Mike Ripley’s trade column would have such an impact in the genre. When I first approached Mike to write for SHOTS, my offer was as a reviewer. The Ripster didn’t bat an eyelid before turning it down. Instead he came up with Getting Away With Murder (henceforth GAWM) – an irreverent column that would highlight good books, bad books, plus all and sundry in between. Over the years Ripster has written some wonderful appreciations on fellow authors such as Rodney Wingfield, Harry Keating and Colin Dexter. I thought it would be nice to turn the tables on him. So, cap in hand, authors and friends were solicited (the case comes up next week) and here we have it -
London Jan 2011

I have always enjoyed widening my reading, and Mike Ripley's 'Getting Away With Murder' reviews and comments have done a great deal to introduce me to new writers and remind me of old favorites.

I admire the way in which he is able to tempt the reader into the unknown, and I like his generous and forgiving tone when dealing with the sort of failings all writers show from time to time.”
California. Dec 1st 2010.

I've never been inside Ripster Hall-- the butler has instructions to turn away anybody with a less distinguished pedigree than Lady Antonia Fraser-- but I imagine the collection of crime novels cluttering up the rooms is as dog-eared as it is vast. This man's knowledge of crime fiction is unparalleled and his championing of unjustly neglected authors is a noble service to crime lovers. But although he doesn't mince his words over inferior products, it's his enthusiasm for up-and-coming writers that impresses most.”

(GAWM)… is superior to just about everything in internet mysterydom. When I say column what I am really saying is a piece of work that is a magazine unto itself. Be sure to check this out.”

I can read (GAWM) raptly, and laughing loudly, even though I know nothing about the vast majority of the people being written about.”

Absolutely priceless. Super brilliant as always.”

If it wasn’t for Mike Ripley, I wouldn’t know what to buy Barry Norman (the man who has everything, including me) for Christmas. As it is, I parcel up the thrillers I’ve marked out during the year from Mike’s “Getting Away with Murder” column on and put them under the tree. The trouble is, their numbers could run to hundreds because Mike has the gift of making the books he likes sound delicious, and he likes so many.

Well, it’s my turn now and I like his “Angel” series about that hard-drinking, taxi-driving, skirt-chasing, cat-loving, trouble-attracting, private eye, Fitzroy Maclean Angel. They are exciting and, above all, funny which causes some of our more solemn book critics to frown at them, but the hell with that. You aren’t going to win the CWA’s “Last Laugh” award – as Mike has twice – by plunging us into the gloom so many thriller writers seem to feel adds weight to their work.

He’s a nice man, Mike, and a very generous one. He’s only disappointed me once and that was with his historical novel “The Legend of Hereward the Wake.” Now, I’d thought Hereward was something of a Good Thing but here he’s portrayed as a psychopath. Sad, but what one tends to overlook amongst all the thrills and jokes, is that Mr Ripley is also a first-class researcher and archaeologist and if he says Hereward was a drug-taking arsonist, then I must believe him. Thank you, Mike.”
DIANA NORMAN (a.k.a Ariana Franklin)

You had me ROFL-ing.”

The Ripster Rules! A must read.”

A great column.”

Hilarious as ever.”

The Ripster Revealed by his True Friend

Let others sing the Ripster’s fine public achievements as critic and columnist, author and editor, reviewer and reviler, jokester and jolly good fellow, and so say all of us! I want to celebrate the hidden, private Ripley, first glimpsed by me at a typically bibulous, back-biting publisher’s party many years ago, when I came across Mike withdrawn from the drink-strident mob, sequestered in a quiet corner, a glass of mineral water in one hand, a copy of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnets From The Portuguese in the other, and tears in his eyes as he read How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. This was a meeting of soul-mates, a relationship that grew ever stronger over the years as we discovered other common areas of interest – for instance The Campaign for the Resettlement of Orphaned Kittens; The Really Close Friends of The Sound of Music Society (to be a Really Close Friend, you must see it at least fifty times a year; repairing patchwork quilts; yogurt making; playing the ocarina; appreciating the belly laughs in Scandinavian crime fiction; and many others too numerous to mention. It can truly be said of Mike that he is one of those people whose exterior semblance doth belie his soul’s immensity. He will be mortified to have these private virtues put on public display, but the time has come to cast off the cloak of modesty. If I didn’t do it this month, then I have it on good authority that Wiki-Leak was planning to do it in the Spring.

Mike, how do we love thee? We can’t begin to count the ways!”

As usual, full of good stuff.”


Unmissable as ever. Informative and entertaining.”

Great fun. I just love Prince Ali and his carryings on.”

Ha bloody ha!”

A ripe load of interesting stuff.”

Wicked humour and many, many British crime fiction news items of which I was unaware.”

A great column; thanks for sending it my way.”

If you don't mind me being serious and truthful - for which I won't charge - you write an excellent column.”

And in final note, Fiona Messenger who claims responsibility for running the the website for Ripster’s Angels books:

I would have remained blissfully ignorant of GAWM, had it not been for Amazon, Google, and honestfi. Back in 2007, Google returned a result that I was discerning, young and Welsh. (Well, two out of three ain’t bad) Ah, Mike Ripley, and those Amazon reviews, that rang a bell. By my calculations, GAWM was at that time very young, indeed less than a year old. Of course, after repeating the mention to friends no more than 20 times and not necessarily on a Friday in the pub, I should have got in contact with SHOTS – but didn’t. Such is my gregarious and outgoing nature erhem.

I did start keeping an eye on GAWM though, I was fairly new to the genre; the “Angels” were the only crime novels I owned, and when money was tight (as it was after buying 12 Angels), the library was the only place to get my early education in crime fiction and I had started to delve into the worlds created by Michael Jecks, Bernard Knight, Reginald Hill and Susannah Gregory. The library is a limited source, though. The crime section is pitiful, and if you happen to be a Welsh crime writer (yes, they do exist), you get promoted to General Fiction, making you tricky to find. Despite a plethora of TV drama shows involving good boys investigating bad boys, or bad boys investigating even worse boys, all of them with more than the average share of hang-ups in human society – Crime Fiction just ain’t taken seriously. So where else could Mike Ripley come in?

A couple of years later sees me referred to as “sub-editor” but this is actually a posh title for what is essentially the enviable task of picking up Ripley’s spelling mistakes, or re-reading sentences to make sure they make sense. Needless to say it can involve me emailing back “You have a you where there should be a you're and a you where there should be a your” – yes, it is a glamorous existence. No, scrap the sarcasm, I feel privileged. I get to read a favourite author before the rest of the population of net land and that’s special.

I leave the rest to the lawyers, because by no means will I get involved in Ripley’s rants when British authors are ignored over the trendier Scandinavian ones, or that, yet again, his shortlist for the latest award is completely off the mark. In between the rants are the dinners (whether he was invited or not), the festivals, the Top Notch Thrillers, Angel Spotting, the lampooning of someone who just deserves to be lampooned, and occasionally a release by one of his cohorts which grabs my attention, and has me wearily reaching for the “To Be Read” list which is currently not so much groaning as crushed. I am not a particularly slow reader, but it seems to me that Ripley Hall, despite the book sales and Ripley’s acts of benevolence must be made completely out of crime novels – past and present, and has he read every single one? My gosh, I have a long way to go. Happy 50th GAWM.”

And we have the photographic evidence to prove it. Click here:

Read GAWM issue 50 here: