Rizzio by Denise Mina

Today Mandie is sharing her thoughts on Rizzio by Denise Mina. We were lucky enough to see the author at an event at Bute Noir and as history has always fascinated Mandie, she couldn’t resist picking up a copy. True crime reimagined, this book really did intrigue me and you can read my review right here. Here’s what it’s all about:

Source: Owned Copy
Release Date: 02 September 2021
Publisher: Polygon

About the Book

This breathtakingly tense work is a tale of sex, seduction, secrets and lies, one that looks at history through a modern lens and explores the lengths that men – and women – will go to in the search for love and power.

It’s Saturday evening, 9 March 1566, and Mary, Queen of Scots, is six months pregnant. She’s hosting a supper party. Outside, Edinburgh is bustling. It’s full of the Great and the Good and the Idiot Sons of the Rich, here for a Parliament that will take Scotland by the shoulders and turn it from England to face Europe.

Mary doesn’t know that her Palace is surrounded – that, right now, an army of men is creeping upstairs to her chamber. They’re coming to murder David Rizzio, her friend and secretary, the handsome Italian man who is smiling across the table at her. Mary’s husband wants it done in front of her and he wants her to watch it done …

Mandie’s Thoughts

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

You would be forgiven for thinking that the events on March 9th, 1566 were just a work of fiction but they were not. David Rizzio was the private secretary of Mary Queen of Scots and on that day he was brutally murdered as part of a plot to take over the thrown from her, after all how could she be an effective ruler as a female and a catholic. 

Told in real time from varying points of view you are drawn into the events that took place both at the time of the murder and the fallout from it. Mary had believed she had married for love but what she found was a selfish man who was easily manipulated and was out to grab power for himself. What surprised her most was the support she found from an unlikely courtier who could have just as easily left her to her own fate Unfortunately for Lord Darnley, he trusted the wrong people and found himself in a situation that would see him dead before he turned 25.

This is only a short novella but trust me, it leaves nothing out and will give you an insight to a time that may not be well known by many. Denise Mina taps into the fear of both Mary and Rizzio as the events unfold and even though you know the outcome you can sense their hope that it will not be so.

The final chapter details what happened to the private chambers of Mary following these events and how things are now displayed to the many visitors to Holyrood Palace today and also making me want to visit one more time.

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 the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year twice, and the McIlvanney Prize twice. She is a presenter of TV and radio programmes, and appears regularly in the media. 

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