‘You will relive Queen Mary’s nightmare’ Frank reviews #Tudor #Histfic novella Rizzio by @DameDeniseMina

Today’s team review is from Frank. Find out more about Frank here https://franklparker.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Frank has been reading Rizzio by Denise Mina

As I immerse myself in the history of the Reformation in England and Ireland, in preparation for a planned book about the Tudor Plantation of the Irish Midlands, I can’t help but be struck by the extent of the sheer brutality of the times, the lack of respect for the lives of others, the seeming absence of concern for their suffering. There are so many incidents involving deceit, false accusation and cold blooded murder. So many men felt an overwhelming sense of entitlement and its corollary, the need to avenge perceived slights. It is impossible not to conclude that it was a time when the most dangerous thing a man, or woman, could do was to express support for a system of belief, or for a particular individual, within earshot of someone who held an alternative opinion.

One of many ill-conceived plots that taints the period is an attempt to prevent the birth of a child to Mary Queen of Scots, in her apartments in Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, in March of 1566. Forcing her to witness the brutal murder of her secretary, the Italian David Rizzio would, it was hoped, cause her to miscarry and die. The cowardly Henry Lennox, Mary’s husband, father of the child and Rizzio’s lover, had been duped into believing he would take the throne upon her death.

Denise Mina recounts these events in a delightful little book that captures the naked ambition that was the real reason behind the rivalries. The readiness of individuals to change sides, denouncing once passionately expressed beliefs, in order to save their skin, or gain royal preference. gives the lie to claims that it was all about religion. Although, to some, innocent of the true motives of their patrons, it was about nothing else but fear of the return of Catholicism.

Mary and Darnley’s child is destined to become the future King James Sixth of Scotland and First of England. Ironically, Darnley fears that the child will ensure the continuation of the Catholic line on the Scottish throne, so something has to be done to prevent its birth.

The book is an absolute delight to read. Mina gets deep inside the minds of each of the participants, analysing their motives, their opinions of the other protagonists, friend and foe alike. The sights, sounds and odours of the Palace, and the city beyond its walls, bring the events to life, playing out on the cinema screen in the reader’s head. But this is not a wide screen battle raging across a landscape. This is mayhem within the confines of a brick and stone palace, poorly lit by flickering candles as befits so dark a sequence of events. Outside, crowds gather. A patrol of city guards and militiamen try to investigate sounds suggestive of a disturbance, but are assured that there is nothing for them to be concerned about.

Elsewhere in the palace life goes on as normal. Two men play a game of chance, blissfully unaware of the horrors taking place a few yards away. With Rizzio dead, Mary plots her escape, with help from a surprising quarter.

In the aftermath, we visit the gallows where scapegoats for the crime meet their maker, and the long abandoned wing of the palace where the ugly scenes took place. The Scots, it is implied, were so ashamed of what happened there that for centuries it was used as a store for broken and unwanted furniture.

This is a book to rival many an acknowledged masterpiece. Do not let its brevity fool you. The quality of the writing is such that you will relive Queen Mary’s nightmare as if you were in her apartments with her. Mina has won many awards for her crime writing. I foresee many more for this masterful foray into historical writing.

Five bright shining stars for a book everyone with Scottish or English blood in their veins should read.

Desc 1

On the evening of March 9th, 1566, David Rizzio, the private secretary of Mary, Queen of Scots, was brutally murdered. Dragged from the chamber of the heavily pregnant Mary, Rizzio was stabbed fifty six times by a party of assassins. This breathtakingly tense novella dramatises the events that led up to that night, telling the infamous story as it has never been told before.

A dark tale of sex, secrets and lies, Rizzio looks at a shocking historical murder through a modern lens—and explores the lengths that men and women will go to in their search for love and power.

Rizzio is nothing less than a provocative and thrilling new literary masterpiece.

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