Book Review – The Smell of Copper by Mark Fowler

Saw a request from Mark for readers, and agreed, it’s always good to see work from someone I haven’t read before. So here’s my review.


When DCI Jim Tyler believes he has uncovered evidence of deep-rooted corruption in the police department, his thirst for justice and loathing of authority combine in a deadly cocktail that threatens to destroy him.

A police officer is found dead in a Staffordshire park. It looks like suicide. DCI Tyler and DS Mills want to speak to the dead officer’s partner, a bent copper recently thrown off the force. Then the partner is found dead in almost the same location. It appears to be another suicide.

Tyler believes there’s a bigger story and digs deeper, upsetting half of the local police force into the bargain, until he is finally ordered to close the case. Mills fears his colleague’s reluctance to pull out reveals a personal agenda, and a rift develops between the detectives.

But Tyler remains determined to dig down to the bottom, in spite of the pressure on him from the top … and regardless of the consequences.

My Review

Tyler is definitely a determined police officer, and when he gets a case that seems like suicide, he believes there’s more to it and goes after the truth. The acts within the book are sensible and Tyler certainly doesn’t get everything all his own way, nor should he. Tyler isn’t a typical maverick, but he is more emotional, well desk thumpingly angry, than most. So, it’s nice to see that he had to face the fallout.

Mills also comes across as a fully rounded character, with a realistic family and interests outside of the home, which… well I’m not giving things away.

The investigation played out over a reasonable amount of time, though the behaviour of some of the higher-ranking officers left a little to be desired. It was difficult at times to see who was manipulating who, but it was good to see an officer with flaws. The final resolution worked out, but the body count actually left me feeling like that was too convenient, but it was still readable.

This is book four of the Tyler and Mills series, so I have to ask if I’ve missed anything by not having read the previous books, and the answer is, no I don’t think I have.  There are light references to previous cases and Tyler’s history but there was enough in the book for the references to work without making the reader feel that they were missing out.

Worth a read.

Mark L. Fowler is best known as a writer of detective crime fiction and psychological thrillers.

Mark is the author of the popular Tyler and Mills detective crime series. The first book, RED IS THE COLOUR, set in 2002, was shortlisted for the 2018 Arnold Bennett Prize and is set in his home county of Staffordshire. The story begins with the grim discovery of a schoolboy who disappeared thirty years earlier. BLUE MURDER involves a missing singer and a murdered guitarist, and THE DEVIL WORE BLACK unveils the mystery of a crucified priest. The latest book in the series, THE SMELL OF COPPER, finds the detectives uncovering police corruption. All four books can be read as standalone crime novels.

His other detective mysteries include TWIST, the first in a new series featuring a private investigator returning to the city of nightmares to look into the case of a dead philosophy student. THE MAN UPSTAIRS introduces hard boiled Frank Miller, who discovers he’s a fictional detective and that his author is plotting to kill him.

Mark also writes psychological thrillers, including SILVER. Journalist and writer Nick Slater becomes obsessed with an unpublished manuscript that a best-selling author was working on when she was murdered. SEXTET delivers more psychological chills, with the twisted rivalry between twin sisters, the weird games they played as children, and the rising murder rate in a small English town.

He is also the author of COFFIN MAKER, a gothic fantasy novel. Death is sent two strange apprentices amid warnings from a priest that the devil has arrived on Earth.

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