The Rose in the Wheel: A Regency Mystery (Regency Mysteries)
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.
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. When a young lady well known for her work among the destitute women of Soho is found dead, presumably run over by a hansom cab, John Chase of the Bow Street Runners investigates. Chase discovers strangulation marks on Miss Tyrone, and at first, evidence points to Jeremy Wolfe, an artist whose drawings of Miss Tyrone in the guise of St. Catherine cause a sensation in the courtroom. Wolfe's wife, Penelope, joins forces with Chase and the attorneys Thorogood and Buckler to clear Wolfe and uncover the real culprit. But readers likely won't simply ask whodunit; they'll also seek answers to a number of questions the book leaves unanswered. Why, for example, does Penelope want to pursue Miss Tyrone's charitable work when such work exposes her to disease and she has a child of her own to support? What is the nature of Buckler's strange malaise? Solid research particularly into the forensic technology of the day centers the book, but the faintly sketched background characters and the dream sequences that herald the denouement fail to advance the plot and seem ill-considered in comparison. At a time when the fear of infectious disease has reentered the collective conscious with a new intensity, Rizzolo provides oddly relevant mystery fare in this talented but uneven first novel. Regency London has become a popular setting for historical mysteries. This debut featuring Bow Street Runner John Chase has lots of historical detail and period color to complement an engaging plot. In December 1811, while the Ratcliffe Highway murderer is terrorizing London, heiress and philanthropist Constance Tyrone, founder of the St. Catherine Society, is run over by a hackney coach. One of her jeweled satin slippers and a gold crucifix are missing. The apparent accident becomes suspicious when the coroner notes bruises on the victim's neck. When artist Jeremy Wolfe is arrested for the murder, his wife, Penelope, sets out to prove his innocence. Working with Chase, she sorts through a tangled web of relationships involving the victim's family, well-placed politicians, clergy, and a surgeon. Readers will enter the courtrooms of Old Bailey, St. Thomas 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 [BKL S 1 01]. Barbara BibelCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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