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 its 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.”

“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