I love all types of mysteries. However, I’ve always thought that mysteries set in historical England were, of course, even more “hook” worthy due to their atmospheric qualities. One series that I recommend is by S.K. Rizzolo. Her Regency mysteries are intelligent, historical, detailed, and full of drama and intrigue.
Recently, the third book, Die I Will Not, published and I was super excited to read it as a newspaper editor’s murder is involved. Being a journalist, I adore settings, plots, and scenes surrounding that industry, especially historically, and if politics and scandal are involved too, then I am sold.
I have to admit, I read the author’s note first even though it is at the end. That was so interesting! Knowing that the author’s mystery was based on an authentic “what if” made me even more curious! When she stated that a true historical Tory newspaper editor was assassinated in response to an article he wrote in reaction to the Reform Act during the mid-1800s, my interest couldn’t have been perked more.
Rizzolo’s mysteries aren’t cozy mysteries, they are smart mysteries. Her word choice and sentences, dialogue and plot, is one that you must read at full attention and will a focused mind. If you do, you’ll be captivated by the novel and dive into the mystery at full speed. You might not even realize you’ve reached the end of the book so fast, as I know I didn’t. Her period and historical particulars were interesting and visual. I was able to create scenes in my head as if I was propelled back in time to the cobbled, dark streets. When I wasn’t entrenched in those specifics, I was reading excellent dialogue from well-developed and dimensional characters that pushed me forward. The imagery was delicious and the intrigue riveting, making a combined effort that truly captured my mind.
There are quite a lot of characters and plot secrets and clues, so you must be sharp and nimble in your reading. If you are dedicated to it, then you’ll feel as if you’ve accomplished a puzzle and made friends with some unique characters by the end. She employed not just the use of one “sleuth” but several. Penelope Wolfe, who shines as the lead in this third book, turns again to Bow Street Runner (Constable) John Chase, as well as to lawyers Edward Buckler and Ezekial Thorogood. Together, they are on the hunt for justice, even if it means being involved in the dark world of royal intrigue and scandal.
As her novels always do, the book takes on some underlying issues that surround the common people and the Royals. Not to mention her authentic portrayal of the lavish Prince Regent (to become George IV), and his wife Caroline, was fairly spot-on. His spending was not viewed as wise by the taxpayers at the time, and he was irresponsible, which started to diminish the view of the monarchy among the people. We can certainly understand the dissent and societal issues clearly within the pages of this mystery. She utilizes old newspaper reports that even recorded the affairs of George IV and Caroline, who never got along, as their divorce attempts in the House of Lords were recorded. They lived separately, and so with that, derives scandal of course! I really liked how she integrated this into the mystery.
I think that Die I Will Not was the best yet by Rizzolo, as I really loved the plot, historical details, characters, scandal, political intrigue, and teamwork within the novel. If you are a mystery reader that likes history, then I highly recommend this novel for a long winter weekend of intense getaway into the pages of a book.
Die I Will Not, Synopsis~
Series: John Chase Mystery Series
Genre: Historical Mystery/Regency
Unhappy wife and young mother Penelope Wolfe fears scandal for her family and worse. A Tory newspaper editor has been stabbed while writing a reply to the latest round of letters penned by a firebrand calling himself Collatinus. Twenty years before, her father, the radical Eustace Sandford, wrote as Collatinus before he fled London just ahead of accusations of treason and murder. A mysterious beauty closely connected to Sandford and known only as N.D. had been brutally slain, her killer never punished. The seditious new Collatinus letters that attack the Prince Regent in the press also seek to avenge N.D.’s death and unmask her murderer. What did the journalist know that provoked his death?
Her artist husband Jeremy is no reliable ally, so Penelope turns anew to lawyer Edward Buckler and Bow Street Runner John Chase. As she battles public notoriety, Buckler and Chase put their careers at risk to stand behind her while pursuing various lines of inquiry aimed at N.D.’s murderer, a missing memoir, Royal scandal, and the dead editor’s missing wife. As they navigate the dark underbelly of Regency London among a cast driven by dirty politics and dark passions, as well as by decency and a desire for justice, past secrets and present criminals are exposed, upending Penelope’s life and the lives of others.
John Chase Mystery Series~
Book One: The Rose in the Wheel
Book Two: Blood for Blood
Book Three: Die I Will Not
Buy the Book~
Author S.K. Rizzolo, Biography~
S.K. Rizzolo is a longtime Anglophile and history enthusiast. Set in Regency England, The Rose in the Wheel and Blood for Blood are the first two novels in her series about a Bow Street Runner, an unconventional lady, and a melancholic barrister.
An English teacher, Rizzolo has earned an M.A. in literature and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.
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