‘a tour de force work of art’ – The Wall Street Journal, Best Books of the Year
Longlisted for the 2022 CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award
It’s Saturday evening, 9 March 1566, and Mary, Queen of Scots, is six months pregnant. She’s hosting a supper party, secure in her private chambers. She 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, Lord Darnley, wants it done in front of her and he wants her to watch it done …
Denise Mina brilliantly portrays the sexual dynamics and politics of power – between men and women, monarch and subjects, master and servants. The period is masterfully researched yet lightly drawn, the characterisation quick, subtle and utterly convincing. This breathtakingly tense work is a tale of sex, secrets and lies, one that explores the lengths that men – and women – will go to in the search for love and power.
'This series has already produced two works of note and distinction. It raises the question - if a country cannot re-tell its history, will it be stuck forever in aspic and condemned to be nothing more than a shortbread tin illustration? Hex and Rizzio are showing the way towards a reckoning, and about time too' -- Stuart Kelly * Scotland on Sunday * 'Denise Mina is a name to be taken very seriously when it comes to crime fiction. .... Mary is a heroine tailor-made for [her] expert literary investigation' * New York Times, Best Historical Novels of 2021 * 'May be Britain's finest living crime novelist' * Daily Telegraph * 'contains more suspense and action than many a doorstopper of a historical thriller ... Written in a style allowing access to multiple characters' thoughts, rich with cinema-sharp imagery, "Rizzio" is a tour de force work of art' * The Wall Street Journal, Best Books of the Year 2021 * '[Rizzio] is retold in Mina's characteristically compelling style which brings the intrigue and machinations of a key moment in Scottish history vibrantly to life' * Waterstones Best Books of 2021: Crime and Thriller * 'a writer of huge skill and inventiveness who blends tense, well-crafted crime fiction with social conscience and historical weight' * The Bookseller * 'Bestseller Mina vividly recreates a gruesome episode from the Tudor era in this searing novella set mostly over the course of a single day, Mar. 9, 1566. Mina interjects well-wrought characterizations; this superior historical thriller reads like a real-life episode of Game of Thrones' * Publishers Weekly (starred) * 'This is an edgy, provocative and thrilling classic in the making' * Scottish Books International * 'it's apt that Mina should embrace the short form novella, encapsulating the darkness and drama yet somehow managing to keep it light and at times funny' -- Janet Christie * The Scotsman Magazine * 'it is refreshing to be presented with a very readable, if embellished, account of Rizzio's murder and some of its implications for Scotland' -- Graham Drew * Press and Journal, Book of the Week * 'Denise Mina applies a true crime lens to revisit 24 hours that transformed the monarchy and it's absolutely riveting' -- Sam Baker * Noon.org.uk * 'Riveting ... darkly clever' * Popsugar * 'Stabby and pithy ... an intriguing sketch in blood' * Guardian, Book of the Day * 'an electric and utterly absorbing battle of wills' -- Roger Cox * The Scotsman * 'An omniscient narrative voice, which delivers historical exposition in quick ironic bursts...Mina's vivid style and the swift-moving plot are a pleasure. More historical fiction, please Ms Mina' -- Antonia Senior * The Times, Best New Historical Fiction * 'This riveting novella retells the intrigue behind [Rizzio's] death' * i Paper * 'I gobbled up Denise Mina's short and immersive Rizzio - a fictionalised account of the murder of Mary Queen of Scots's private secretary in 16th-century Holyrood - as an audiobook on a single long car journey' -- Cal Flyn * The Times * 'In Rizzio she has created a plus-sized novella with the passion of an opera, a tour de force of imaginative reconstruction' * Wall Street Journal Europe * 'The tragic episode is retold in Mina's characteristically compelling style, which brings the intrigue and machinations of a key moment in Scottish history to life' * Daily Record * 'I had an absolute thrill-ride reading your book ... ... what you manage to do with this is quite dazzling... you manage to present a feminist, female perspective on her [Mary Queen of Scot's] dilmena and her intelligence and a couple of the other women there too...absolutely incredible... your prose is beautiful, the dialogue drawn from historical record. Another brilliant book. Congratulations' -- Janice Forsyth * BBC Radio Scotland * 'Mina, a contemporary crime novelist, retells this famous tale with great panache and gives it both a touch of noir and a blackly comic edge... gripping' * Sunday Times * 'Mina's real genius is to draw out the private feelings of [her] protagonists with such economy, in a short, pacey but incredibly tender account...Making her tale all the more vivid is Edinburgh itself...[the tale] seems fresh in her retelling' -- Mike Wade * Times Online * 'The writing is spellbinding and simply draws one in ... Outstanding' * Journal of the Law Society of Scotland * 'Set in one day it really is a fabulously, engaging and moving read. Anybody with an interest in history, crime - anything Scottish - would love it' -- Susie Troup, Director of Hexham Festival * Broadcasting House BBC Radio 4 * 'Mina does an excellent job of grabbing the reader's attention and transporting them to that horrible night ... If you love reading about Mary, Queen of Scots, and Stuart Scotland during the 16th century, you will find "Rizzio" by Denise Mina thrilling' * Adventures of a Tudor Nerd blog (US) * 'Denise Mina brilliantly manages to be funny, heart-wrenching, gut-punching and addictive all at once' -- Nicci French 'a novella designed to be devoured in one sitting' -- Nora McElhone * Press and Journal * 'Written in tight, present-tense prose, Rizzio peers over the shoulders and into the minds of conspirators, loyalists, pawns, and victims as the titular assassination of Rizzio and the attempted overthrow of the queen unfolds... a gut-punch of a novella' * Rose Amber blog * 'This is a book to rival many an acknowledged masterpiece.' -- Frank Parker 'Denise Mina is at the helm of a pithier, pocket-sized revolution: the historical novella' -- Rosie Morton * Scottish Field * 'Mina explores this bloody incident with forensic and gripping detail ... written in a taut detective-story style, with flashes of modern wit' -- Kate Pettigrew * Historical Novel Society * 'I love the idea - drinking in historical fiction as a series of shots' -- Katherine Faulkner, author of Greenwich Park and The Sunday Times' head of news projects
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