The Guardian: Bryant & May novelist Christopher Fowler has died aged 69

Friday 3rd March 2023

Christopher Fowler, author of the Bryant & May series of detective novels, has died at the age of 69, having been diagnosed with cancer three years ago.

Fowler was best known for his Bryant & May thrillers, featuring the veteran detectives solving unusual crimes in London from the second world war to the present day. The series began with Full Dark House in 2003, and 17 more novels followed, most recently London Bridge Is Falling Down, published in 2021. A further book exploring the London of the characters, Bryant & May’s Peculiar London, came out last year.

Fowler’s death was announced late on Thursday by his husband, Pete, who posted on the writer’s Twitter account:

“Christopher Robert Fowler, 3 score & 10, 1953-2023. His sparkle, joy and humour are gone, but remain in my heart and his work. What a remarkable person we all shared. Goodbye to a beautiful man, a beautiful mind, my partner in crime and soulmate. Pete x Happy #WorldBookDay2023”

Writers and fans posted tributes to Fowler on social media. Crime writer Val McDermid tweeted: “So sorry to hear this. He gave me enormous pleasure over the years, as he did to so many. What a cornucopia of imaginative writing he’s left us.”

Author Joanne Harris said: “My dear friend. Gone too soon. Never forgotten.”

Broadcaster and writer Muriel Gray tweeted: “So shocked and saddened by this. Christopher Fowler was an absolute superstar in our community and far beyond. His talents in almost every creative field were immense. Sending sincere condolences to Chris’s husband and family. We are all diminished.”

And horror and thriller writer Mark Chadbourn said: “Very sad to hear of the death of my longtime friend and brilliant writer Christopher Fowler, gone far too young. I picked up Chris’s books before I knew him – Roofworld was my first – and soon found how much we had in common. I’ll miss you, old pal.”

Fowler’s first novel was 1988’s Roofworld, a fantastical thriller about a secret community living on top of London’s buildings, followed by a number of supernaturally tinged novels such as Spanky, Disturbia, Rune and Psychoville.

In 2009 Fowler published Paperboy, his memoir about growing up craving books in a house without any, which was followed in 2013 by Film Freak, about his time in the movie trade. He had just finished the manuscript for his third memoir, Word Monkey, before he died. It is to be published in August by Doubleday.

Born in Greenwich, London, on 26 March 1953, Fowler split his time between London and Barcelona before his cancer diagnosis in 2020. He began his career as a copywriter and founded the film marketing company the Creative Partnership, coming up with the tag-line for the Alien movie in 1979: “In space, no one can hear you scream”.

A prolific blogger, even in the age of social media, he announced his illness on his website in April 2020, writing: “On Christmas Eve I came down with a severe flu-like cold that kept boomeranging back. On March 24th, the day the UK coronavirus lockdown began, I was finally diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. It was spectacularly bad timing. Getting into the system for treatment proved impossible for a month, because our hospitals were daily rethinking their structure. Doctors managed to devise a complicated multiple-therapy system for me and I’ve now started treatment.”

On 18 January, in a blog entitled The Last Post, Fowler announced he would not be posting any more updates. He wrote: “It was when I realised I could not handle short staircases that my future became apparent. My muscles had wasted away. I suddenly looked like my grandfather. Physical deterioration, accompanied by mental fog. As the illness increased its invasive speed I could no longer keep my head clear enough to work. I needed the time I had left to try and finish a short story, but even that is now in danger of remaining unfinished.”

His final words on his blog were: “It’s very hard to write now without falling asleep or forgetting what I was going to say. If there’s something I really need to get out I’ll put it on Twitter. So you might want to check your old @peculiar feed once in a while. All fun things have to come to an end. I love you all. Except for that horrible old troll – are there any other kind? There, now you have a smidgen of extra time on your hands, go have fun … and read a book.”