His first published novel was Midget (1994), a psychological thriller set in Leigh-on-Sea. This has been followed by several other novels: Dragon's Rock (1995), a thriller set in Devon; River Boy (1997), a story about love and bereavement and winner of the Carnegie Medal; Shadows (1999), a love story; Storm Catchers (2001), a kidnap thriller; Starseeker (2002), an exploration of love, loss and music, also made into a play; Apocalypse (2004), an allegory about the future of mankind; Frozen Fire (2006), a philosophical thriller about the nature of reality; Bloodchild (2008), a story about memory, secrets and betrayal; Buried Thunder (2011), a dark psychological thriller; and Sea of Whispers (2013), a haunting and mysterious story set on the remote island of Mora.
Blade (2008 to 2013) is a series of urban thrillers. Reviewing it for The Bookbag, Jill Murphy wrote, "Nobody in children's writing is producing anything like this. It's electrifying." Some editions in translation (e.g. Germany and Korea) are four books, each comprising two original volumes.
Bowler speaks at conferences, schools, and book festivals and makes regular appearances on radio. He lives in a village in Devon and writes in a small stone outhouse.