“Derek Wilson is a top-class historian with proven expertise in the Tudor era and a string of books and TV shows to his credit. He is also an excellent storyteller, and the two skills come joyously together in this reformation romp. Readers of C J Samson will recognise the landscape here: the techniques of a modern-day murder mystery applied to a bygone age. Wilson handles the territory well and brings two particularities that lift The First Horseman above the ordinary. The first is that the crime at the centre of the book is an actual event from history. A mystery as yet unsolved in the real world is given a fictional solution. The second is that the characters in this Reformation-era adventure are wonderfully well-rounded. Wilson knows enough of history to recognise that stories in which white-suited heroes do battle with black-hatted villains simply don't work in the real world. His characters are an ambiguous mix of high moral aspiration and base worldly ambition; of faith and commerce; of personal choices and political manoeuvrings. The result is a portrait of Tudor England that rings true, and offers not only a good read but at the same time an excellent history lesson... Highly recommended.”
It’s very agreeable when you don’t have to blow your own trumpet because someone else is doing it for you! The early reviews of The First Horseman have been welcome not just because they are so favourable, but also because readers seem to be ‘getting’ what I’m trying to say.
My feelings about history books and historical novels is that the first shouldn’t be tedious recitals of fact and the second shouldn’t be stories about modern people in period costume. If a book, whether fact or fiction, doesn’t give the reader some sense of ‘what it was like then’ it has failed. Mid-16th century England was a disturbing, yet exciting place to be. The old society was being ruthlessly bulldozed and only slowly being replaced by a new one.
The records leave us with some intriguing questions. ‘Who gunned down a leading mercantile fat cat on London’s busiest street?’ ‘Why did the King’s Painter, Hans Holbein, suddenly disappear without trace?’ The honest answer is ‘We don’t know’. But that offers the fictioneer scope to suggest answers. That’s what The First Horseman and The Traitor’s Mark, published under the name ‘D.K. Wilson’, are all about. Please read them and join me in the cacophonous market places of London, the ‘red light district’ of Southwark, Westminster corridors of power, and city churches where ranting pulpiteers hold sway.