The Rose in the Wheel


This well imagined, carefully detailed, and cleverly plotted debut draws on actual historical events of 1811. Regency London knows Constance Tyrone as the conspicuously celibate founder of the St. Catherine Society, dedicated to helping poor women. One wet November evening a carriage mows down Constance outside her office. Curiously, while her corpse’s one foot is bare, the other is shod in a clean satin slipper despite the muddy road. Why was a gentlewoman abroad in the night? And if she died under the wheel, whose hands bruised her neck and stole her monogrammed crucifix? Dismissing the idea of an accident, Bow Street Runner John Chase forms an unlikely alliance with Penelope Wolfe, wife of the chief suspect. A young mother paying the price for an imprudent marriage, Penelope is eager to clear her husband Jeremy, a feckless portrait painter whose salacious drawings of the victim suggest an erotic interest. Chase’s first task is to learn the identity of the mysterious benefactor who goes bail for Wolfe while Penelope traces the victim’s last movements. Barrister Edward Buckler, intrigued, shakes off his habitual lethargy and joins their investigation. As horrifying murders on the Ratcliffe Highway claim all London’s attention, the trio discovers that it won’t be easy to unravel the enigma of Constance Tyrone, a woman who revives the legend of martyred St. Catherine.

Voted Book of the Month by LASR Readers, August, 2017

“The Rose in the Wheel is an excellent beginning to what I hope will be a long series. I can’t wait for the next.”
—Sharan Newman, author of the Catherine LeVendeur mysteries

“How can you instantly plunge a person from 2002 back into the world of a woman trying to earn a precarious living as a writer in 1811 London? S.K. Rizzolo does it elegantly and effectively in her first outing…Wolfe is an audacious but believable character, one of those feisty women (well known to readers of Anne Perry and Laurie R. King) who work within the boundaries of their time while always trying to stretch them…With John Chase, a crafty, crusty Bow Street Runner who might be one of Inspector Morse’s ancestors, Wolfe slogs through the mud and secrets of a London that always seems ready to open its arms to a promising new series.”
—Dick Adler, The Chicago Tribune

“S.K. Rizzolo’s Regency London recalls the late Kate Ross’s work in it’s depth of period detail. Vivid characterization, compelling narrative, and surprising plot twists–-immensely satisfying.”
—Stephanie Barron, author of the Jane Austen Mysteries

“This debut featuring Bow Street Runner John Chase has lots of historical detail and period color to complement an engaging plot…Readers will enter the courtrooms of the Old Bailey, St. Thomas’s Hospital, and various seamy London pubs as the sleuths attempt to discover what really happened. This is a well-crafted tale that will please fans of T.F. Banks’ similar Thief Taker: Memoirs of a Bow Street Runner.”

“The setting is described with graphic, grungy precision, with delicious details that have a bizarre resonance with yesterday’s tabloid headlines. An excellent debut for this author.The setting is described with graphic, grungy precision, with delicious details that have a bizarre resonance with yesterday’s tabloid headlines. An excellent debut for this author.”
—Carol Howell for “I Love a Mystery” newsletter

“Set in Regency London, this thoughtful and thought-provoking debut offers a large cast of characters and a wealth of historical detail in a tale of murder, intrigue and the 19th-century English justice system…Rizzolo provides oddly relevant mystery fare…”
Publishers Weekly

“I absolutely LOVE English mysteries– movies, books, TV shows — you name it, I’m willing to give it a shot. So when this book became available to review, I jumped at it, and I’m so very glad I did.

With it being a debut novel, I was prepared for a few issues and, with it also being the first book in a series, there was the very good chance that it might be a little slow in places as the author introduces her characters. What a surprise when none of those expectations came to pass. The book kept me intrigued to the point where anytime I had a few minutes, I picked my reader up to read another few pages.

The characters are wonderfully drawn, and I really enjoyed the chemistry between them. I’m looking forward to reading more and seeing how their relationships grow in future books. One of my very favorites is Penelope’s daughter, Sarah. Children are sometimes hard to capture, but she is just adorable.

The pacing moved right along without feeling rushed, and the mystery itself was very neatly solved with true detection and “putting the puzzle together-ness” that was refreshing. Often a mystery will be solved through a series of coincidences and pure luck, and it’s not the case here. All the clues are there for the reader to see, and this reader was surprised at the culprit. Always the mark of a good mystery, in my book.

I would love to see this series wind up on BBC (are you listening?)… it’s that good.

I’ve already downloaded the next book in the series, and I can wait to jump back in the world of Chase, Wolfe, and Buckler. Kudos, Ms. Rizzolo– you are now on my auto-buy list, so I hope you have many more books in store for us.”
Long and Short Reviews

“Set in the exact venue as P.D. James’ THE MAUL AND THE PEAR TREE, THE ROSE IN THE WHEEL uses a real incident to relate a descriptive historical mystery. The story line enlightens readers while furnishing a powerful who-done-it that grips the audience from start to finish. The wide ensemble seems so real one will feel the rain and mud which allows the audience to further accept the tale and marvel at S.K. Rizzolo’s ability to keep everyone consistently straight. The author paints a powerful Regency mystery that will make her a sub-genre favorite rather quickly.”
—Harriet Klausner,

“S.K. Rizzolo’s first novel is a stunning example of historical mystery at its best.  Nineteenth century London comes alive as Rizzolo introduces readers to the haves and have-nots of English society.;”
—Mary Welk, author of the Caroline Rhodes mystery series

“The Rose in the Wheel is an exciting tale that keeps the suspense going right through the last pages. I was sorry to finish this engrossing book and look forward to a return of John Chase and Penelope Wolfe.”
—Mary Ann Smyth, BookLoons

“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.”

—Brenda Weeks,