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A moving story about the nature of love and redemption set amidst the worst of the London Blitz and the destruction of London’s hallowed seat of law, the Temple

Adam Falling is a failing, sick barrister married to Catherine but conducting an affair with the glamorous Julia, who happens to be the wife of his Head of Chambers, Jeremy Pemberton.

Julia, fearful of losing her children, suddenly ends the affair. But it is too late. Pemberton discovers it and Adam is kicked out of his home and his chambers. Unable to work without a chambers and facing ruin, salvation comes in the unlikely form of the brilliant barrister, Roland (“Roly”) Blytheway. Blythway, held back in his career because of his sexuality, befriends him and invites him to join his chambers at Lamb Building.

It is there he finds himself defending a Czech refugee, Tomas Novak, who has been accused of treason and who is facing the gallows and becomes mired in another contested divorce case for one Arnold Bateman, where he, on the recommendation of Pemberton, represents the co-respondent whilst Pemberton represents the petitioner - a piece of cruel psychological torture on the part of Pemberton.

Whilst the Blitz rages on around, can Adam save Novak from the gallows? Can he get Bateman off? Will he ever discover why Julia suddenly broke off their affair? Can he succeed in resisting Jeremy’s claims against him personally? He has been told that only one man can possibly save him and that man is Roland Blytheway.

At the Dark Hour is the story of ordinary people caught in the horror of war whilst the city is destroyed around them. It features many of the most notable real life events of the Blitz such as the bombing of the Café de Paris. 

A gem of a novel … such evocative and elegant prose. I was smitten with the world and the characters you created.” Jo Delahunty QC

A triumph” Philip Cayford QC

Utterly gripping and moving. It is beautifully constructed and completely addictive.” Jane Campbell

I was absolutely rivetted … fascinating … I have not enjoyed a book quite so much in ages” Janys Scott QC

From Amazon reviews:

"The best book I've read in a long time - buy it now" ***** L.E. Metcalfe

"If you read one this book in the next year ... make it this one ... I read a lot, Boyd, McEwan, Faulks, Nemirovsky etc etc.  This is in that league ... If you enjoy insightful, original and well plotted writing then this is for you. ***** Mark Simpson

"A gripping story: part romances, part wartime history, part whodunnit, part courtroom drama.    I found this book to be one of those rare treats.   I wanted to finish it to find out what happened but at the same time I didn't want the story to end because I was so completely absorbed by it." ***** CAB

"This book  gives a fascinating insight into the history of the Temple area during WWII and really brings to life how it must have been standing on the rooftops & moving around London not knowing if the axe would fall any minute ... Loved it." ***** gjacqui

"This is a beautifully written book that I highly recommend." ***** Steve

"Compelling romance with suspense thriller backdrop ,,, This is an exceptionally compelling novel ... A page-turner to the end.  An absolute must read." ***** David Marusza

"A compelling historical novel set in legal London during the Blitz ... Highly recommended." ***** Nicola

"Absolutely gripping.   I found this book to be extremely well written, full of intrigue and hard to put down.  It has all the drama of life during the Blitz, the class ridden workings of the legal profession at the time and the emotional turmoil often unearthed in matters of the heart." ***** S. Reynolds

"Immerse and enjoy.  This novel is one of those magic books where you need to steal time to enjoy it ... a great read." ***** Michele O.

"Seductively engaging and addictive.     Ths is a brilliant novel, which draws you into a fascinating world, peopled with vivid characters.  The well-woven plot is gripping and I lost sleep as I couldn't put it down.  Sequel please???" ***** Miss F.

"Gripping read, from start to finish.  Intriguing characters and clever twists and unexpected turns; here's hoping there's a sequel!" *****J I Clark

"Brilliant ... a great page turner." ***** Mrs Mary Mcginlay

"Fabulous novel of love intrigue spies and Barristers amidst the Blitz ... Absolutely gripping and compelling story full of atmosphere of the darkest days of 1941 London.   I highly recommend this fantastic first novel to everyone." ***** Colin  Samuelson

"Brilliant dark WW2 atmosphere and grippping court room drama - inside and outside the courtroom." ***** T R Amos

"Great read, loved every page.  Should be made into a film ..." ***** Bernadette Connolly

"Highly recommended for the story, the evocation of wartime London, and the writing." ***** Carisbrooke

"Very well written.  I love books set in this period so I am genuinely delighted to be able to say that I really enjoyed this one, it had a lovely writing style and it was a very easy story for me to read ... I thoroughly enjoyed hte story and highly recommend it to any fans of historical fiction works set during WWII." ***** Donna Maguire

"This is an amazing novel.  It grips from the outset ... You want to know what happens next.  An astonishing achievement." ***** Charles Oatwig-Thain

"Engrossing and beautifully observed period legal thriller." ***** Rhys

"blitzed hearts ... An intricately plotted humane and wise book about divorce, and ambition set in legal London during the Blitz.  Long but very well paced and an excellent sense of period.  The background research is thorough without being intrusive.  A compassionate book about pain and the limited control we have over our emotional lives.  Highly recommended." ***** Mary Ward

"A tour de force.    I couldn't put this book down but didn't want it to end.  Beautifully observed and written - echoes of   Graham Greene's The End of the Affair but in a voice which John Wilson has made his own ... I will be buying this book for all my friends.  A must read.  Bravo that man." ***** LMS

"A riveting drama of love and law, set in wartime London ,,, it also richly repaid multiple re-readings, thanks to its depth, beauty, craftmanship and characterisation.  The book just kept on giving, so much so that I look forward to reading it a fifth time in the not-too-distant future." ***** Samston

And from Goodreads:

***** Nicola McClean

"Utterly magnificent!" ***** Anna

"A truly astonishing read.  John Wilson has you in the palm of his hand with this rewarding, spell binding book ... Highly, highly recommend it.  It needs to be dramatised." Samantha Singer

"The highest compliment I can give this book is that I found it a real "page turner".  I simply could not put it down ... The writing is of the highest quality and the characters were very real.  I was gripped by this story - once I had started this book I absolutely had to know how the narrative would unfold.  It's an outstanding debut novel." ***** Nicholas Orosz

And from Twitter:

"Has anyone else read At the Dark Hour by John Wilson?  I am 100 pages from the end and can't put this book down!  It's incredible!  Think Atonement, think Birdsong, think bloody brilliant!" Anna the Bookworm

"If you only buy one more book this Autumn, make sure it is At the Dark Hour by John Wilson QC from 1 Hare Court.  It is terrific." Philip Marshall QC




Anchor 1
Anchor 2

Originally from Wigan, John Wilson is a QC at 1, Hare Court, London who was called to the bar in 1981. He has written or contributed to a number of academic text books, written very many articles and is a published poet.

Wilson drew on his many years of experience of family law (and in the early days criminal law) and upon the misogyny and homophobia which were characteristic of the law at the time the novel is set.

When not working in London, Wilson spends as much of his time as possible in the South of France, where the novel was written, and travels extensively.

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