Blood for Blood


In the spring of 1812, the Luddites are on the march, Lord Byron is taking London drawing rooms by storm, and Penelope Wolfe has become a lady’s companion. When one of the footmen turns up dead with a knife to the heart, Penelope and Bow Street Runner John Chase are entangled in a web of family secrets and political conspiracy that stretches far beyond luxurious St. James’ Square. With the help of barrister Edward Buckler, Chase follows the trail of a mysterious mad woman caught peeping in the window at the corpse. Penelope struggles to fit into the fashionable world, encountering people who hide resentment and deceit under smooth smiles. Set against a backdrop of millennial fervor with thousands awaiting the end of the world, “Blood for Blood” explores the simple truth that every drop of blood spilled will be avenged.

“In this engrossing sequel to Rizzolo’s well-received Regency debut, The Rose in the Wheel (2002), John Chase, a Bow Street Runner (a pre-Victorian constable), and Penelope Wolfe, his accomplished assistant, investigate the fatal stabbing of a footman…The different circles in which Chase and Wolfe move afford Rizzolo an opportunity to depict the disparities in London society of 1812, and she makes the most of it. Engaging and three-dimensional lead characters match her evocative place descriptions. The killer’s motivation may be a little underdeveloped, but that doesn’t detract from a thoroughly entertaining effort that deserves many sequels.”
Publishers Weekly

“Like the best historical mystery authors, Rizzolo is scrupulously accurate and uses her setting as much more than window dressing. The class-conscious society of Regency London acts almost as a foil to the sleuthing efforts of Chase and Wolfe, who uncover a web of family secrets and political conspiracies that extends from sophisticated St. James’ Square to the wilds of Dorset, where Druid rituals may reveal the truth. A natural for fans of Stephanie Barron’s Jane Austen series.”
—Barbara Bibel for Booklist

“Fans of the late Kate Ross (Cut to the Quick, The Devil in Music, etc.) should find satisfaction in this Regency London series.”
—J Kingston Pierce, January Magazine Rap Sheet

“Estranged from her father, who lives in Sicily and her husband, residing in Ireland, Penelope Wolfe takes a job as companion to Lady Julia Ashe in order to feed herself and her daughter. Living with the Ashes are Julia’s father and other eccentric individuals. There are dark undercurrents surrounding Julia and her husband whose marriage was a business arrangement that turned into a battlefield. One night Penelope is awakened by a strange cry. She goes out to the garden only to find the murdered body of Dick, an Ashe’s footman. She has the family procure the services of Bow Street Runner John Chase who actively pursues the case until a government informant warns him off. They believe Dick was a Jacobin, who wanted to topple the monarchy, the aristocracy and the government. The government wants to round up all his co-conspirators but John, with the help of barrister Edward Buckler, makes certain they can help the fair Penelope if she needs it.

In 1812, the gulf between the rich and the poor was wider than ever and some radical elements of the population, including the Luddites, advocated violence to level the playing field. Penelope senses something is wrong in the Ashe household but she doesn’t know the family history or how it relates to a pregnant prophetess who is supposed to give birth to the Messiah. By the time she discovers the truth another murder is committed and Penelope can only seek justice for the dead. Her need turns BLOOD FOR BLOOD into a fascinating historic mystery that shows the dark side of Regency England.”
Midwest Book Review

“Reviewers of S.K. Rizzolo’s excellent first mystery, “The Rose in the Wheel,” about a young woman trying to keep herself and her baby daughter alive after being set adrift in the London social stew of the early 1800s, evoked such writers as Kate Ross and Laurie R. King as role models. I’d like to add Anne Perry to that list, especially because of the way she and Rizzolo have solved the “Upstairs Downstairs” problem by each creating a pair of characters who can move freely on all levels of an extremely stratified society.

With a range of suspects from Luddites to pro- and anti-Bonapartisans, Wolfe, Chase and especially Rizzolo (a high school teacher in Los Angeles) manage to keep their eyes on the ball with admirable restraint.”
—Dick Adler, Chicago Tribune

“In this second installment of this Regency series (The Rose in the Wheel, Issue 19), S.K. Rizzolo reminds us of how difficult it was to be an English woman without substantial means and how caste-driven English society was in 1812. The engaging main characters, Penelope Wolfe and John Chase, a Bow Street Runner, help move this story along apace.

As a young footman lay dying in the garden of the house in which Penelope is employed as a lady’s companion, he utters an apocalyptic passage from the Bible which Penelope overhears. Being of an analytical nature, Penelope becomes involved in seeking out the murderer with her friend, Chase, who is doing the police work. They soon discover that the footman had been leading a double life. The case becomes more convoluted than either initially imagines.

Penelope is endearing, bright and capable. A woman with a fascinating past and a difficult present, she is caught between two worlds – that of the sedate, married mother of little Sarah and a woman deserted by her husband but still legally bound to him. While Penelope’s choices – and those of other women in the book — are severely limited by the onerous class distinctions in English life, she certainly makes the best of it. The denouement of the book might not be as successful as I would have liked, but overall, it is a very enjoyable follow-up to the first book in the series.”
Historical Novel Society

“This is one heck of a good book! Well written with a terrific plot that pulls you in from the beginning and never lets go until the very end. Tightly woven into the plot is wonderful historical detail about how the classes interacted, how the police operated, the plight of unwed mothers during this time and the millennial fervor occurring in Regency London when thousands were waiting for the end of the world. A gripping mystery that is a must read.”
—Online Reviews Spinetingler Magazine

“The sights, sounds, and smells of Regency London streets, markets, parks, famous buildings and neighborhoods are vividly illustrated. The period speech patterns ring true. Notable is Rizzolo’s portrayal of the wide gulf between the rich and poor, the powerful and the weak. The views of “treasonous” Jacobins become important plot points. The unrest of the Luddites, smashing new machinery in the Northern mills, is highlighted in a stirring speech by Lord Byron in the House of Lords: “Never under the most despotic of infidel governments did I behold such squalid wretchedness as I have seen since my return in the very heart of a Christian country.” The action segues somewhat abruptly between past and present, however, leaving the reader to wonder what is going on, when and where.”
Women in World History Curriculum