The Rose in the Wheel by S.K. Rizzolo
John Chase Mystery, No. 1
Poisoned Pen Press - January 2002
ISBN: 189020885X - Hardcover
Historical Mystery - 1811, London (Regency era)

Reviewed by Brenda Weeaks, MyShelf.Com
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S. K. Rizzolo's first mystery takes place in Regency London, and her main character is John Chase, a Bow Street Runner. Also taking a prime sleuthing roll is Penelope Wolfe, a wife, mother, and part-time writer.

The mystery begins immediately when Constance Tyrone, founder of the St. Catherine Society is found dead in the street. John Chase realizes that a hackney coach ran over her. She also sports a ring of bruises about her neck and is missing one satin slipper and a personal crucifix. At the inquest, after erotic drawings and note are presented, John Chase has a suspect.

Penelope and her daughter do not live with her husband, yet she believes him innocent of murder. Later, after he is mysteriously bailed out of jail and disappears, Penelope begins to investigate. Her first meetings with John Chase are passionately disagreeable, leaving the reader to wonder if either of them will realize they need each other to solve the case. Throughout the mystery, readers will learn more personally about John Chase and Penelope, as well as those they work with.

The first chapter expertly sets up the mystery, gaining the readers interest; the second will have them settling down for a promising experience richly enveloped in a dramatic era. As the mystery moves, relatives and associates of Constance are introduced. Suspicion and doubts are planted along a well-laid path, but the finally destination isn't as apparent until the last because the author has successfully hidden it. The characters are well written, each having a distinctive personality and able to blend into the rich tapestry accordingly. It's a substantial mystery flavored with historical dialogue in keeping with the era it was written. In fact, the writer offers up the story as if she were there and was simple recanting what she experienced. A splendid mystery in a promising new series.

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