The Devil Wore Black by Mark L. Fowler

Today I’m bringing you my thoughts on The Devil Wore Black, the third book in the Tyler and Mills series by Mark L. Fowler. My thanks to the author who provided the book for review. Here’s what it is all about:

Source: Review Copy

About the Book

November 2003. When a priest is found crucified, following the desecration of local churches, hysterical media coverage focuses on terrorism, and a satanic cult operating out in the wilds of North Staffordshire. Panic grips the city. DCI Tyler and DS Mills are under pressure as the toxic atmosphere deepens.

One line of enquiry, involving historic allegations against the murdered priest, is close to home for Tyler and threatens to tip him over the edge. But Mills has a hunch that could lead the investigation in a different direction, until a serious complaint is made against him. The investigation appears to have stalled, when a second ritual murder is discovered. The pressure to find the killer mounts, and as winter closes in the detectives find themselves pushed to the limits.

The Devil Wore Black is the third book in the acclaimed Tyler and Mills series. It can also be read as a standalone crime novel.

Available from: Amazon

My Thoughts

This is the third book in the Tyler and Mills series, and is a story which has personal challenges and connections for Tyler as it brings. back memories of his troubled childhood and a period of this life he would rather forget. When a priest is found murdered in the most horrific of circumstances, the pair must find out who had the motive and the opportunity to commit murder. With historic and unproven allegations of abuse thrown into the investigation, the reasons could be all too obvious. But when a woman is murdered in a very similar fashion, the motive suddenly becomes very murky indeed.

At first glance this seems like a very straight forward case but in reading through the book is is clear that it is anything but. Whilst the author has used the abuse allegations as the centre of the story, there is also an ongoing cycle of vandalism and abuse targeting religious institutions across the city of Stoke so the reasons for murder are far from obvious. I really enjoyed the way that the author slowly built the tension in the novel with conflicting opinions on the Priest’s innocence or guilt and about his character. Add in a cult who have very ideas about God, and a family in mourning for whom there is an intense animosity towards the dead Priest and you have a whole host of suspects to choose from.

Mills and Tyler are great characters and I really enjoy reading about them. The banter between them often covers up the underlying tension and anxiety that exists, especially in Tyler who is very affected by this case. Despite an overwhelming reliance on biscuits to see him through the day, Mills also has a great relationship with his wife that helps to see him through the tough days. Both men have great intuition, but Tyler’s is slightly off key due to his personal prejudices and experience. Mills is focused on one suspect, but is it also a case of a personal crusade?

There is a lot of tension bubbling through this story, and a lot of conflict which really drives the story. The violence is kept off the page and while the murders are quite gruesome, it never plays out in public. I got a real sense of the city, and Mills’ love for his precious Stoke always makes me smile. The camaraderie between the characters is a real plus, and it makes a change to see a senior officer who really roots for and supports his team when this is all too often another source of conflict for everyone. Whilst the story doesn’t necessarily give a completely clean conclusion, we do find out whodunnit and why, albeit that justice may take longer to be fully served.

If you’ve enjoyed the first two book in the series, then this will be a welcome return to the world of Tyler and Mills.

About the Author

Mark is the author of the highly acclaimed Tyler and Mills historic crime series. RED IS THE COLOUR, the first in the series, is set in 2002 and shortlisted for the 2018 Arnold Bennett Book Prize. RED concerns the discovery of a schoolboy missing since 1972. BLUE MURDER begins when a singer on the threshold of success goes missing and an ex band member is found murdered. THE DEVIL WORE BLACK is the case of a priest found crucified. All three books can be read as standalone crime mysteries.

SILVER and SEXTET are psychological suspense novels. SILVER features journalist and writer Nick Slater, who becomes obsessed with a strange, unpublished manuscript that a famous author was working on when she was murdered. SEXTET involves a case of sibling rivalry between twin sisters, and the weird game that they played as children.

Mark also writes fantasy fiction. COFFIN MAKER, a highly original gothic fantasy, finds Death being sent two very different apprentices. THE MAN UPSTAIRS features hardboiled detective Frank Miller, who discovers he is a fictional detective and that his author is plotting to kill him off and end the series, combining the author’s interest in crime and fantasy fiction in homage to classic noir.

All of Mark’s books contain a strong thread of humour and mystery.

Author Links: Twitter

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