Renowned Tudor historian Derek Wilson has turned his hand to historical fiction and it doesn’t disappoint. Set in the reign of Henry VIII, Wilson focuses on solving and providing an answer for real unsolved Tudor crimes. This novel is part murder mystery, part historical fiction. The story takes place around real historical events and people but the main character is fictional. Wilson is not saying this is really what happened but the ending satisfies and makes sense.
Thomas Treviot is a London Goldsmith who has lost his father and his wife in quick succession. His mother has dementia and he has an infant son to take care of as well as taking over the running of his father’s goldsmith business. He is not handling it well. He is a damaged character – a lost soul. Then, one morning in 1536, his friend, Robert Packington is murdered just a few months after the death of Boleyn. This crime really did happen – Packington really was shot to death and his killer was never brought to justice. It was the first assassination by a handgun in British history and it shocked London at the time. It is world divided by religion, a world of rebellion, a time of change where a new national identity is being hammered on the anvil of violent conflict. Treviot is living in troubled times. He is determined to find out what happened to his friend even if he puts himself in danger along the way. Thomas launches a dramatic investigation into Packington’s death and searches for revenge. Along the way he finds out that Robert Packington is not the man Thomas thought he knew.
Wilson conjures up 16th century London with skill. The detail is great and everything feels real. The story moves with the pace of a good crime novel but the historical detail takes you right into the period and you feel like you’re there. If you are a fan of C.J. Samson, S.J. Parris or Rory Clements then you will love this novel.