Wilson, Robert 1957–

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Wilson, Robert 1957–


Born 1957; married. Education: Graduated from Oxford University, 1979.


Home— Portugal.


Writer. Has worked in shipping and advertising in London, England, and trading in West Africa.


Gold Dagger award for best novel, Crime Writers Association, 1999, for A Small Death in Lisbon.



A Small Death in Lisbon, HarperCollins (London, England), 1999, Harcourt (New York, NY), 2000.

The Company of Strangers, Harcourt (New York, NY), 2001.


Instruments of Darkness, HarperCollins (London, England), 1994, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2003.

The Big Killing, HarperCollins (London, England), 1996, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2003.

Blood Is Dirt, HarperCollins (London, England), 1997, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2004.

A Darkening Stain, HarperCollins (London, England), 1998, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2004.


The Blind Man of Seville, Harcourt (New York, NY), 2003.

The Vanished Hands, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2004, also published as The Silent and the Damned, HarperCollins (London, England), 2004.

The Hidden Assassins, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2006.


Robert Wilson is a crime writer who writes primarily from his rural home in Portugal. Wilson graduated from Oxford University in 1979 and began working in the advertising and shipping industries in London. He later traveled around the world with his wife, working in trading in West Africa and also spending time in Greece and Asia.

Wilson began his career as an author with a quartet of novels in the "Bruce Medway" series. Each of the novels,Instruments of Darkness, The Big Killing, Blood Is Dirt, and A Darkening Stain, features Bruce Medway, a "fixer" for traders in West Africa. In an interview with Luan Gaines on the Web site Curled Up with a Good Book, Wilson discussed the protagonist, saying: "Bruce is not my alter ego. You might be glad to hear that. My intentions for Bruce when I first started were to make him a more accessible hero, but he just refused to comply. One of the reasons he gets into so much trouble is that he has fluctuating levels of morality, which is caused by his fascination with bad guys. I realised early on that I needed a balancing influence and this was why Bagado became vital to the books. He is the moral voice in Bruce's head. I quite often start out with clear ideas for characters but once I throw them into the action their flaws become evident and they develop as they see fit and not always as I want them to."

After completing the "Bruce Medway" series, Wilson wrote a stand-alone novel called A Small Death in Lisbon in 1999. The book won the prestigious Crime Writers Association's Gold Dagger award in 1999. In the novel Wilson intricately weaves a modern-day death with events that occurred during World War II in Lisbon, Portugal. Mary Ann Smyth, writing for the BookLoons Web site, called the novel "a cleverly thought out book with twists and turns that one doesn't see readily but begins to realize as the plot thickens." Michael Helfand, writing in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said that "Wilson's characters also are far more interesting than those in most thrillers." In a Curled Up with a Good Book Web site review, Luan Gaines concluded that A Small Death in Lisbon "is a remarkable and powerful novel, beautifully structured, with characters that make your skin crawl and others who inspire hope in mankind's basic dignity. The complicated series of events build to a shocking resolution in an intricate novel that inhabits the mind long after the last page is turned."

Wilson followed his award-winning novel in 2001 with another freestanding novel,The Company of Strangers, also set in Lisbon during World War II. Physicist Karl Voss is a double agent between the Nazis and the Allied Powers. His affair with multilingual British mathematician and spy Andrea Aspinall causes problems when each begins to suspect the other. Jana L. Perskie, writing for the Web site Mostly Fiction, asserted that "Wilson is a writer of rich imagination and extraordinary narrative ability." Perskie added that "all the characters are developed with imagination and subtlety," and called the book "one of the most unique and compelling novels I have read in this genre."

Wilson started the "Javier Falcón" series in 2003 with the publication of The Blind Man of Seville. Homicide detective Javier Falcón investigates the case of a dead restaurateur with missing eyelids in Seville, Spain, while struggling with his own connection to the suspected killer. Bill Robinson, writing for Mostly Fiction, thought that readers "will feel for Falcón, with sympathies and emotions that run deep." In a Bookreporter.com review, Ava Dianne Day commented that "Wilson is best at producing and sustaining tension to the point where it is almost unbearable."

Wilson published The Vanished Hands, the sequel to the series opener, in 2004. In the novel, which was also published under the name The Silent and the Damned, citizens in Falcón's district are being killed, and the murders are being disguised as suicides. The victims' pasts, a mysterious American couple, and the Russian mafia lead Falcón to the truth. Gaines, again writing for Curled Up with a Good Book, remarked: "With elegant storytelling, lush detail, sensuous women, rough-hewn men, and an abundance of lies, Falcón returns with a vengeance, a little more tattered psychologically but ever the intrepid investigator."

The third novel in the series,The Hidden Assassins, was published in 2006. Here Falcón investigates a terrorist cell that lands in the city and then disappears as tensions are high. Falcón himself comes under suspicion due to his family's ethnic background. Eleanor Bukowsky, writing for Mostly Fiction, felt that "this intelligent, challenging, and suspenseful novel has a number of thought-provoking and disturbing themes that will resonate with readers for a long time to come."



Los Angeles Times, October 21, 2001, review of The Company of Strangers, p. 9; December 2, 2001, review of The Company of Strangers, p. 28.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 22, 2000, Michael Helfand, review of A Small Death in Lisbon, p. 43.

Spectator, November 24, 2001, review of A Small Death in Lisbon, p. 43.

Tribune Books(Chicago, IL), July 6, 2003, review of Instruments of Darkness, p. 6; November 30, 2003, review of The Big Killing, p. 2.


BookLoons,http://www.bookloons.com/ (December 1, 2007), Mary Ann Smyth, review of A Small Death in Lisbon.

Bookreporter.com,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (December 1, 2007), Ava Dianne Day, review of The Blind Man of Seville.

Curled Up with a Good Book,http://www.curledup.com/ (December 1, 2007), Luan Gaines, author interview and reviews of The Vanished Hands, A Small Death in Lisbon, The Hidden Assassins, The Company of Strangers, The Big Killing, Blood is Dirt, and A Darkening Stain.

Harcourt Trade Publishers Web site,http://www.harcourtbooks.com/ (March 4, 2003), Edward Nawotka, author interview.

Harper Collins Crime & Thrillers Web site,http://www.collins-crime.co.uk/ (December 1, 2007), author interview.

Mostly Fiction,http://www.mostlyfiction.com/ (January 29, 2003), Bill Robinson, review of The Blind Man of Seville;(September 4, 2005), Jana L. Perskie, review of The Company of Strangers;(September 4, 2005), Eleanor Bukowsky, review of The Vanished Hands;(November 16, 2006), Eleanor Bukowsky, review of The Hidden Assassins.

Shots,http://www.shotsmag.co.uk/ (December 3, 2007), Georgina Burns, author interview.

Who Dunnit,http://www.who-dunnit.com/ (December 1, 2007), Gregg Banse, review of The Hidden Assassins.

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