Posted By Claire on February 13, 2015
If you read my review of D.K. Wilson’s first book in this series of Tudor who-dunnits, The First Horseman, you’ll know that I ignored everything else in my “to read” pile and moved straight on to The Traitor’s Mark. I was that gripped by Wilson’s story.
Thankfully, the second instalment was just as gripping as the first. I do hate it when a series starts with a ‘bang’ and then the second just isn’t as good as the first, but The Traitor’s Mark was just as riveting as the first.
The Traitor’s Mark takes us forward in time by seven years to autumn 1543. The characters we came to know and love in 1536 have got on with their lives after the troubles of 1536, but little do they know that trouble is once more stirring. The protagonist Thomas Treviot, a London goldsmith, is trying to contact artist and jewellery designer Hans Holbein, about a promised jewellery commission, when his messenger and friend gets arrested for murdering Holbein’s apprentice and Holbein is nowhere to be found. Not only does Treviot need to help his friend get out of this mess, he needs to find Holbein to get the promised jewellery design. But before he can do much about tracking down the artist, a warrant arrives requiring him to visit Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury – what has Treviot got himself into?
Everything soon spirals out of control and Treviot just doesn’t know who to trust. Who’s Black Harry and who’s his puppet master? Are Treviot’s links to Cranmer going to bring him down as people in high places plot against the Archbishop? And just what has Holbein to do with any of this? Can Treviot find Holbein and keep those he loves safe?
Once again, eminent historian Derek Wilson has taken a real-life mystery – the mysterious death of Holbein in 1543 – and turned it into a compelling and intriguing thriller. The political intrigue of Henry VIII’s court at this time is brought beautifully to life through Treviot’s eyes and Wilson has the gift of conjuring up vivid pictures of both places and people in the reader’s mind with just a few words.
The First Horseman and The Traitor’s Mark are must-reads for anyone who enjoys historical thrillers like those written by C.J. Sansom, and I hope D.K. Wilson is working on the third – I can’t wait to read it.
The Real Crime
Hans Holbein, King Henry VIII’s portrait painter, died in the autumn of 1543. A century later a chronicler reported that the artist had succumbed to plague, yet there is no contemporary evidence to support this. Suspicions have been raised over the centuries, but the mystery of what actually happened remains unsolved to this day.
Young London goldsmith Thomas Treviot is awaiting a design for a very important jewellery commission from Hans Holbein. When the design fails to turn up, Thomas sends a servant to track Holbein down, only to discover that the painter has disappeared. In his hunt for Holbein and the lost design, Thomas is led into a morass of dangerous political intrigue, Spanish spies and courtiers that is more treacherous than he could ever have anticipated…