Author David K. Wilson has once again returned to his past with the release of his fifth novel, “Deadly Reputation,” the latest book in his East Texas-based Sam Lawson Mystery series.

The books in the series are set in a fictional East Texas town and feature a wide assortment of colorful Texas characters pulled from the past by Wilson, a 1981 Lindale High School graduate who became homesick for his East Texas roots after work took him out of state.

After graduating from Stephen F. Austin State University, Wilson went to Chicago and started a career in advertising that later took him to Albany, New York.

“Over the years, and long winters, I grew homesick and decided to create a mystery series set in the area where I grew up,” he said.

His Sam Lawson Mystery series feature a rough-around-the-edges detective in the fictional East Texas town of Quinton. The first book in the series, “Combustible,” was released in 2019. Each book is a stand-alone story featuring a particular murder that Sam is tasked with solving, according to Wilson.

Wilson, who was born in Longview and moved to Lindale at the age of 12, said he never forgot his East Texas upbringing.

“When I was a young kid, I loved exploring the woods and creating adventures, hanging out with my cousins at my great grandmother’s house,” he said. “Then, when I hit high school, there was nonstop fun, from Friday night high school football games to hanging out with friends. Tt was a very happy time in my life.”

Wilson said that, like many teens, he couldn’t wait to move to a big city when he graduated, but he said he never lost his love for East Texas.

“And when I returned as an adult, I began to see and appreciate the very unique culture of East Texas. It truly is a world all its own; in the best of ways,” he said.

Wilson said each of his books has an East Texas flare with several nods to actual buildings and locations.

“My Sam Lawson books take place in the fictional town of Quinton, Texas, which is not quite as large as Tyler but bigger than Lindale,” Wilson said. “In fact, most of the locations and even specific places are a combination of several places in the area, and many from my youth that may not even exist anymore.”

His latest book features an abandoned quarry, a nod to The Cliffs in Lindale, he said. “Red Dirt Blues” contains characterizations and stories from his extended family in Longview.

“However, I try to infuse a bit of East Texas into everything — from the way people talk to the places where they live,” Wilson said. “One of the biggest compliments I get is when someone says they grew up in East Texas and they recognize people and places from their life.”

Wilson, whose mother is a former Lindale ISD superintendent and sister teaches first grade in the district, said he wanted people to know how much East Texas has to offer and that he wanted to feel a “little closer to home.”

“There is no place on earth like East Texas and no one like the people that live there. I knew setting the books in East Texas would automatically give me a treasure trove of colorful characters. But just as important, I wanted the world to know what East Texas is really like,” he said. “When people think of Texas, they either think of cowboys and cactus and tumbleweeds or they think of J.R. Ewing. I wanted people to see the uniqueness and richness of East Texas. This book series is my love letter to the area that made me who I am.”

Wilson plans to host a book signing in East Texas in mid-June.

Wilson’s novels are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.


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Multimedia Journalist

Multimedia journalist Jessica Payne covers several counties in East Texas. In 2011, she left her hometown Houston for East Texas. In 2016, she left the 9-5 office routine to pursue a passion for sharing inspiring stories and engaging with the community.