Today I’m delighted to share my thoughts on the brand new Tyler and Mills novel from Mark L. Fowler, The Smell Of Copper. My thanks to the author for the advance copy for review. Here’s what it’s all about:
About the Book
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.
I really enjoy reading a local set novel, and Mark Fowler’s Stoke set Tyler and Mills series always brings a smile to my face. I was absolutely thrilled when he said he had brought the characters back for another outing. This time around they are faced with a case that on the surface seems like a relatively straightforward suicide, but one that is somewhat personal to the pair as the victim, Miriam Blake, is one of their own.
I really enjoyed the way in which the author has introduced a sense of mystery to this novel. Everything about the case bears the hallmarks of a suicide, but something about it doesn’t sit well with Tyler. The more questions he asks, the more certain he becomes that there is something he is not seeing, which adds conflict to the story as it puts him in direct opposition with the power that be who would rather see the case closed. Tyler is a determined character, one who has an issue with authority, but one whose instincts have often proven true. His unwillingness to drop the case could ultimately cost him everything, but he’s not the kind of character to let that stop him. And when Tyler cries foul, you tend to listen.
I love the partnership between Tyler and his DS, Danny Mills. There is a clear respect between them, even of they haven’t always seen eye to eye, and a bond which extends beyond the pairing on investigations. Tyler is the often bitter chalk to Mills cheese, but they bounce off each other well and make for a great detective combo. And Mills passion for his beloved home city of Stoke really helps bring the setting and the character of the city to life. Throughout the book you can feel Mills’ concern for Tyler, but also his unending loyalty to his boss. There is a great deal of banter between them too, which adds humour and lightness to an otherwise dark tale.
There is a great deal of melancholy in the story, as you would expect when it comes to the loss of a life, but more there is a sense of mystery. Spurred on by others, Tyler uncovers a spate of deaths in suspicious circumstances, from suicide to potential murder, and more than a whiff of corruption and cover up to match. But just how far the corruption goes is hard to see, and with Tyler’s inherent distrust of those who wield the greatest power, whilst the main perpetrators of this crime may be obvious, there is enough misdirection to make us doubt even those we think we know best.
The pacing is good, the mystery strong enough to hold my attention. The ending really sees the sense of threat pick up, powering the story along to a shocking, but satisfying conclusion. If you like the Tyler and Mills series, then this is another great read, a story that might even put a long overdue smile on Tyler’s face.
About the Author
Mark’s books include the popular Tyler and Mills historic crime series. The first book RED IS THE COLOUR, set in 2002, was shortlisted for the 2018 Arnold Bennett Prize, and begins with the grim discovery of a schoolboy who disappeared in 1972. BLUE MURDER involves a missing singer and his murdered guitarist, while THE DEVIL WORE BLACK, the latest in the series, unveils the mystery of a crucified priest.