Fifth novel, set in the late 60's, from Virtue (Among the Animals, 1988--not reviewed): a mishmash of genres--picaresque, coming-of-age, gay, fantasy--that manages to build up enough steam to keep the story moving against the grade. Toby Todd is a Gypsy. At 16, he has spent the whole of his life in Southampton, but when his grandmother dies and his father abandons him, he sets off for London and a life on the streets. Eventually he's adopted by the eccentric Alicia Wickham and her transvestite son Antony, and shares their ramshackle Hampstead Heath mansion with several other vagrants. Very quickly he becomes Antony's lover. But throughout every change of circumstance, he is watched over by the Angel whom his grandmother told him would always guide his steps: ``You'll see the Angel in folks' eyes as they come near you. Those will be the ones that you must trust. All the rest will be selfish bastards.'' Of the latter there are no lack, and throughout the story they keep popping up whenever Toby starts to settle down. The Dickensian slant of Toby's life is pushed a bit far at times, but Virtue manages to keep up the pace right to the end--and fortunately the fantasy and folklore, which could have weighed the plot down, appear only in the background and don't intrude. A creaky plot, but quite readable.