The Bathroom Murders by Mark L. Fowler

Today I’m delighted to share my thoughts on The Bathroom Murders, the brand new novel from Mark L. Fowler. I love supporting local authors and with Mark Fowler being from just up the road didn’t hesitate to add this book to add to my TBR pile. I’ve really enjoyed the author’s previous books and was really intrigued to see what we could expect from new DI on the scene, Charlie Reed. My thanks to the author for the advance copy. Here’s what it’s all about:

Source: Advance Reader Copy
Release Date: 23 April 2022
Publisher: Self Published

About the Book

When a series of women are stabbed to death in their showers, DI Charlie Reed puts her neck on the line, disregarding the orders of her superiors in a desperate bid to catch the killer before they can strike again.

DI Charlie Reed is called to the scene of a murder in Fallowfield, a young woman found stabbed to death in the shower. The attack was frenetic, the victim suffering more than a hundred wounds. And yet there is no trace of evidence at the scene.

With the help of her faithful sidekick DS Paul Rigsby, Reed investigates and a man is brought in for questioning. But while he is in custody there is a second, almost identical, murder.

Panic grips Manchester as Reed and Rigsby come under intense pressure to crack the case before more women die. But while all eyes rest on one suspect, Reed remains unconvinced, and even Rigsby seems unwilling to go with her this time.

With pressure mounting by the hour Reed’s future is on the line.

My Thoughts

A series of grisly murders, a convenient suspect and DI under pressure to close the case. That’s what you can expect when you open the pages to The Bathroom Murders by Mark L Fowler. In a move away from his usual Stoke set reads, the author takes us on a short journey up the M6 to meet DI Charlie Reed who has been assigned as SIO to investigate the murders of two young women. Faced with seximsm and misogyny from her fellow DI, and demands to charge their only clear suspect from a boss who is more interested in crime figures and budgets than he is getting to the truth, Reed faces an uphill battle from the off. It all adds a layer of conflict to an already fractious situation and certainly kept me engaged in the story if only to see Reed prevail over both of her colleagues.

This is quite a twisty storyline. Initially both murders seem violent but random. Two women found stabbed to death in their bathrooms, in a frenzied manner that can only really be described as overkill. There are precious few links between the two women, but for one of them , the key suspect in fact, the links seem to grow stronger at every turn. But … is it really that simple and obvious. Reed doesn’t think so and due to the way in which the author drip feeds the facts into the story, I wasn’t entirely convinced either. There is another possibility. Less obvious but not impossible, and it’s one that keeps sitting there, just below the surface.

Reed is an interesting character. Quite logical and determined, and to be honest she had to be given the negative influences all around her. She won’t bow down to the obvious without absolute proof, no matter that it sets her on a path of conflict with her boss. I liked her approach and the way in which the author makes her immediately likeable and relatable as a character. Supported by DS Rigsby, she is given precious little else by way or resource and, even though the other team is investigating an escalating case of gang violence, it’s the only part of the story which really niggled with me to be honest. Two murders and only able to get the very basic support. It’s a time where you really do hope this is not modelled on any example from real life.

The story does lend itself to identifying one clear suspect from the outset, but there is enough mystery and slow discovery to keep the intrigue going throughout, as well as that earlier mentioned inkling that something was amiss. The pacing is just right, moving the story along as needed, the sense of urgency that comes from the investigation and the pressure from the top being reflected in the story. Did I work out who the murderer was? Honestly, yes. I did. Did I fully understand why? Nope. Not until all of the cards had been dealt and both me as reader and Charlie Reed as SIO fully understood what was at stake.

A good start to the series and I’m interested to see where the author takes Charlie in the future. Manchester is a pretty big city and the opportunities for misadventure never ending.

About the Author

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.