The First Horseman by DK Wilson

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The First Horseman by DK Wilson

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Category: Crime (Historical)
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Luke Marlowe
Reviewed by Luke Marlowe
Summary: 1536 was a year of intrigue, violence and political change for England, and The First Horseman plunges the reader firmly into the action, in a gripping yarn of murder, religion and espionage that centres around the real life murder of a London merchant
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 468 Date: August 2014
Publisher: Sphere
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9780751550368

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British author Derek Wilson is one with a tremendously long bibliography as a Historian, and as an author of fiction. He brings all of that to The First Horseman, a resounding success that blends fact and fiction to create a gripping, fast moving Tudor crime story that educates as well as fascinates, moving from the merchants of Cheapside to the whores of Southwark, and mixing with figures such as Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII.

The murder of merchant Robert Packington is the spark that starts this story, and it's a brilliant one, being the first assassination by handgun in our nation's history, and a death that took place at a time of major change, both politically, and in terms of religion. In addition to all that, the crime remains unsolved to this day, and so DK Brown weaves his tale around this horrific real life incident.

The lead character, Thomas Treviot, is a fully rounded character - a young widower struggling to juggle work, his young son and his elderly mother, who becomes embroiled in the murder of a friend. With shades of CJ Sansom and Susanna Gregory this is historical crime fiction at its best.

No characters here are not compelling, and we meet a wide range - from the young girl who becomes Treviot's friend and nanny, to historical figures such as Cromwell. All leap off the page, and make this book a truly immersive read.

Filled with a need to solve the mystery of his friend’s death, Treviot embarks on a journey that takes him all over – the brothels south of the river, the royal palaces in Greenwich, to the grimmest of jails (the true story of this jail and the death of its former inhabitant is one which is revealed towards the end of the book – I dare you not to grimace), and far afield to the reformists in Flanders.

With trouble brewing with regards to politics and religion, the world Treviot inhabits is a hugely unstable one, meaning that solving a murder is far from simple. In fact, he becomes embroiled in conspiracies on top of conspiracies, yet the authors easy and engaging prose means that the reader rarely gets lost.

Wilson has created a compelling character, and the fact that this series will continue to revolve around real life Tudor mysteries is fantastic, as I felt both thrilled and educated by this book, and it drove me to read more about the time period and some of the real life figures encountered. Unputdownable would be an understatement – and I spent a sunny Sunday inside devouring this novel. I’m hugely excited for the next book in the series, and I’m hugely thankful that I was able to review it!

For more historical fiction set during this time, I'd recommend Dissolution (Matthew Shardlake) by C J Sansom - a slightly weightier tome, but one which also depicts well the unstable nature of the mid 1530's.

And if the depiction of Thomas Cromwell intrigues you, then Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel provides a detailed exploration of the man's life and origins. We also have a review of The Traitor's Mark by DK Wilson.

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Buy The First Horseman by DK Wilson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The First Horseman by DK Wilson at


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