Home Books Rizzio Denise Mina – book reviews by Jen Mead

Rizzio Denise Mina – book reviews by Jen Mead


Today, Mandy shares her thoughts on Rizzio by Denise Mina. We were lucky enough to see the author at an event in Bute Noir and as the story has always fascinated Mandy, she couldn’t resist picking up a copy. A true crime reimagining, this book really intrigued me and you can read my review properly here. Here’s what it’s about:

Source: Owned copy
Release date: September 02, 2021
Publisher: Polygon

About the Book

It’s a stunningly tense work – a tale of sex, seduction, secrets and lies that looks at history through a modern lens and explores the lengths to which men – and women – will go in their pursuit of love and power.

Saturday evening, March 9, 1566, Mary, Queen of Scots, six months pregnant. She is making dinner. From the outside, Edinburgh is bustling. It is full of great, good and idiots, sons of the rich, here is the parliament that will take Scotland by the shoulders and turn it from England to Europe.

What Mary doesn’t know is that her palace is surrounded – that an army of people is crawling upstairs to her room right now. They come to kill David Rizzio, her friend and secretary, a handsome Italian who smiles at her across the table. Mary’s husband wants it done in front of her and he wants her to watch it…

Mandy’s thoughts

After hearing about this book at the Crime Festival last year, I was definitely intrigued by it because it directly tapped into my love of history. Listening to Denise Mina talk at Bute Noir this year, I took the plunge, bought the book and made sure I took the time to read it.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the events of March 9, 1566 were all fiction, but they weren’t. David Rizzio was private secretary to Mary Queen of Scots, and that day he was brutally murdered as part of a plot to take possession of her forsaken, after all, how could she be an effective ruler as a woman and a Catholic.

Narrated in real-time from multiple points of view, you are immersed in the events that occurred both during and in the aftermath of the assassination. Mary thought she married for love, but she discovered a selfish, easily manipulated man who wanted to seize power. Most of all, she was surprised by the support of an incredible courtier, who could just as easily have left her to her fate. Unfortunately for Lord Darnley, he trusted the wrong people and ended up in a situation where he died before he was 25 years old. .

It’s only a short novella, but trust me, it leaves nothing to be desired and will give you an insight into a time that may not be well known to many. As events unfold, Denise Mina appeals to Mary and Rizzio’s fear, and even though you know the outcome, you can feel their hope that it isn’t.

The final chapter details what happened to Mary’s private rooms after these events and how things are now on display to the many visitors to Holyrood Palace today, and makes me want to visit them again.

About the author

Denise Mina was born in East Kilbride in 1966. Her first book, Garnethill, won the CWA Dagger for Best First Crime Novel. She has won Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year twice and the McIlvanney Award twice. Host of TV and radio programs, regularly appears in the media.

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