Twist by Mark L. Fowler

Today I am sharing my thoughts on Twist, the brand new novel from author Mark L. Fowler. I’ve really enjoyed reading some of the author’s local set Detective fiction and so was intrigued to see his take on the classic P.I. novel. Here’s what the book is all about:

Source: Advance Reader Copy
Release Date: 08 April 2021

About the Book

The first book in a gripping new detective crime series.

The DMT detective agency is struggling when Beth Hilary, an attractive and wealthy widow, walks into the office. Her son Simon, a philosophy student, was found dead in his university lodgings, having apparently taken his own life. She wants answers that the police appear unable to provide.

Following a recommendation from a concerned friend, she asks William Twist, one of the partners at DMT, to look into the case. Twist has good reasons not to get involved, until Beth Hilary makes an offer that he is in no position to refuse.

But soon Twist is regretting his decision … and cursing the day Beth Hilary walked into his life.

My Thoughts

For a short book this certainly packs in one heck of a lot of action. This is the story of William Twist, one of three private investigators from a firm in Stone. He is approached by a widow who wants him to look into the death of her son, ruled a suicide by police, but which she is certain is far more complex than anyone can understand. What seems like a straightforward, if tragic case, takes Twist back to his former University in Leicester, forcing him to confront a time in his life that he would much sooner forget.

Now if this really was a straightforward case of suicide it would be a much shorter story than it already is but, as Twist and readers find out, nothing is quite so simple. This is a complex and twisted story (no pun intended) which exposes all manner of secrets, conspiracies and puts both Twist and potentially his colleagues in the firing line. I like the way in which the author slowly exposes all the secret parts of the victims life as well as the many complicated aspects of that of his mother, Twist’s client, Beth Hilary.

The book has echoes of the classic Private Eye novels, the lead character, Twist, a self confessed fan of Chandler and the classic Detective novels. told in first person, we are privy to all of Twist’s thoughts, his fears, and his own confused dreams, a mixture of his present and his past. As a former student of Philosophy, some of his investigations, and his streams of consciousness, seem confusingly high brow, and yet it is soon brought back to base facts and the all important question – did Simon Hilary commit suicide or was he forced into it?

Twist is an interesting character. He has a dark relationship with Leicester, and as both a former student resident and eventually police officer, a suspicion of some of less salubrious areas around the city. His hostility towards Oldcastle and its residents informs the story, and most of the characters he encounters only go to amplify his own prejudices by their behaviour. It adds a kind of menace to the story, if only on the periphery, the majority of the threat seemingly imagined rather than actually ever present. Twist is a reluctant investigator, although his experience and his instincts serve him well and I’d be interested to see how his character can be developed further.

There are many layers to the story, some surprising, others less so. The clues are drip fed although such secrecy and cryptic counsel makes it hard to tell the lies from the truths at times. It is a deceptive read, quick and yet quite detailed. At less than 200 pages, it gives readers just enough be drawn into the story and to engage with the characters, but avoids taking a fantastical turn. It is set in Leicester and Stone after all, not downtown Chicago or New York City so there are limits to the kinds of threat one man can face.

An intriguing tale and if this is the first of a series, I’m curious to see what comes next.

About the Author

Mark Fowler writes detective fiction and psychological suspense.

His books include the popular Tyler and Mills crime series. RED IS THE COLOUR, set in 2002, was shortlisted for the 2018 Arnold Bennett Book Prize, and involves the discovery of a schoolboy missing since 1972. BLUE MURDER investigates a missing singer and his murdered guitarist. THE DEVIL WORE BLACK, the latest in the series, opens with the corpse of a crucified priest. All three books can be read as standalone crime mysteries.

Other books include SILVER, a dark psychological thriller about journalist and writer Nick Slater’s obsession with a strange, unpublished manuscript that a best-selling author was working on when she was murdered. SEXTET exposes the explosive rivalry between twin sisters, and the weird game they played as children, recently resurrected.

COFFIN MAKER finds Death being sent two strange apprentices as the devil arrives on Earth. THE MAN UPSTAIRS introduces hard boiled detective Frank Miller, who discovers he’s a fictional detective, his author plotting to kill him off and end the series.

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