Unhappy wife and young mother Penelope Wolfe fears scandal for her family and worse. A Tory newspaper editor has been stabbed while writing a reply to the latest round of letters penned by a firebrand calling himself Collatinus. Twenty years before, her father, the radical Eustace Sandford, wrote as Collatinus before he fled London just ahead of accusations of treason and murder. A mysterious beauty closely connected to Sandford and known only as N.D. had been brutally slain, her killer never punished. The seditious new Collatinus letters that attack the Prince Regent in the press also seek to avenge N.D. s death and unmask her murderer. What did the journalist know that provoked his death? Her artist husband Jeremy is no reliable ally, so Penelope turns anew to lawyer Edward Buckler and Bow Street Runner John Chase. As she battles public notoriety, Buckler and Chase put their careers at risk to stand behind her while pursuing various lines of inquiry aimed at N.D. s murderer, a missing memoir, Royal scandal, and the dead editor s missing wife. As they navigate the dark underbelly of Regency London among a cast driven by dirty politics and dark passions, as well as by decency and a desire for justice, past secrets and present criminals are exposed, upending Penelope s life and the lives of others."
When signing up for this tour, I was offered the chance to read the entire John Chase series (The Rose and the Wheel, Blood for Blood, and Die I Will Not). I jumped at the chance, and that has turned out to be one of the better literary decisions I have made in recent memory.
By the time I got to Die I Will Not, I had twice ridden in a horse-drawn carriage at breakneck speed through the foggy streets of Regency London and was chomping at the bit for a third excursion. And the fabulous foursome (Chase, Buckler, Penelope Wolfe and S. K. Rizzolo) do not disappoint. Other than seeing Penelope out of danger, I really did not want Die I Will Not to end!
Penelope is a most interesting character. I can see how she has grown throughout the series. At the start of the series, she was quite naive - at least as naive as you can be raising a child alone because your philandering artist husband only shows up when he wants money. By the third installment, we find out that she had been born in rather better social circumstances than we might previously have believed. She is well educated and often surprises the upper-class denizens with her knowledge of the classics. Her would-be protectors realize that she is not one to sit back and let things happen around her. And she maintains her character and responsibility, and respectability as a married woman with a child even when those around her do not, despite the fact that her strength is like nectar to the men buzzing around her.
I could see myself being acquainted with Bucker and Chase as well. They are loyal to their friends, even at their own peril (both in life and on the job).
We know from Chapter 1 that the conservative editor of a newspaper has been stabbed by a woman. Soon we learn that Penelope had attempted to see the editor (Dryden Leach) and been turned away. You see, someone has been using the name adopted by Penelope's father 20 years ago to write letters considered treasonous because they derided the excesses of the upper classes, especially the Prince Regent.
But the report is that Leach went home sick. Why do they not want the truth out? When the editor dies, it is put about that a man with a cloak and a mask stabbed him. Why? A witness disappears. Within a few days, the editor's wife is found dead, gruesomely murdered underground in a room where cows were housed.
As with the previous installments, the suspense in Die I Will Not winds tighter and tighter, until it has gone as far as it can go and the story spins furiously (deliciously) to its conclusion. I know I've used this allegory before, but this fine book reminds me of a rollercoaster. You secure yourself in the car, make that first climb up, and hurtle over the top, plunging to the depths, screaming in fearful release, holding on for dear life while rattling around corners, and finally coming back to rest where you started. You look at your companion, smile and both say at the same time, "Let's go AGAIN!"
Sparing the fact that Penelope would probably once again come into dire straits, I would love to read another John Chase Mystery! You're all invited back to the Porch this Wednesday (the 19th) to read my interview with the author, S. K. Rizzolo!
S.K. Rizzolo is a longtime Anglophile and history enthusiast. Set in Regency England, The Rose in the Wheel and Blood for Blood are the first two novels in her series about a Bow Street Runner, an unconventional lady, and a melancholic barrister. An English teacher, Rizzolo has earned an M.A. in literature and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.
For more information please visit S.K. Rizzolo’s website. You can also find her on Facebook and Goodreads
Please click the logo above to see the rest of the tour schedule. There are more reviews, interviews and spotlights!
(Disclosure: I received a print ARC of Die I Will Not from the author and publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Blog Tours in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.)
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