Friday, March 11, 2016

On a Desert Shore by S.K. Rizzolo - #review

Protecting an heiress should be an easy job for Bow Street Runner John Chase. But the heiress—daughter of rich London merchant Hugo Garrod and a slave-housekeeper on his Jamaican property—is no conventional society miss. Educated to take a place among Regency England’s upper crust and marry well, she has failed at London’s social scene and lives isolated among the Garrod family in Clapham. And someone is playing her malicious tricks, some of which recall her island heritage of Obeah.

John Chase needs to determine whether Marina is indeed a victim—or is herself a delusional and malicious trickster. If the trickster is real, is it her rejected suitor and cousin Ned Honeycutt? His demure sister? Their devoted aunt who acts as the Garrod housekeeper? A clergyman friend? Everyone around Hugo Garrod has a stake in how he disposes of his immense wealth.

Meanwhile Mrs. Penelope Wolfe, an abandoned wife, flouts convention by earning her living with her pen. She’s in love with barrister Edward Buckler and hesitant to further scandalize society by breaking any more rules. Hugo Garrod invites her to join his household and put her pen to work. Her assignment takes her into an exotic world where menace lurks at every turn of the garden path and the façade of propriety masks danger.

To solve the case, Chase must grasp the enigma of Marina, an expert in self-concealment, who challenges his assumptions and confronts him with difficult truths. And, with the aid of Penelope and Edward Buckler, reveal a clever killer.

On a Desert Shore stretches from the brutal colony of Jamaica to the prosperity and apparent peace of suburban London. Here a father’s ambition to transplant a child of mixed blood and create an English dynasty will lead to terrible deeds.



Back in November of 2014, I was given the chance to read and review the three previous John Chase Mysteries (The Rose in the Wheel, Blood for Blood, Die I Will Not).  So I was eager to find more adventures of Chase, Wolfe and Buckler.  I am pleased to say that they return full force in 'On a Desert Shore'!

Penelope Wolfe's life is as topsy-turvy as ever.  Luckily, she is a resilient woman.  Her on-again, off-again pseudo-husband has finally left, and once again Penelope must find a way to support herself.  Taking up the pen, she sets the societal social machine running on whether or not writing is a 'proper' job for a woman.   This employment takes her into Hugo Garrod's household, where Marina also resides, and brings her into contact once more with John Chase.

This detecting duo have worked well together before, which is a good thing, because apparently someone is trying to harm Marina.  Some of the attacks seem to have an Obeah flavor, which was part of Marina's heritage.

Marina is an interesting character.  Some might say lucky.  Most children of a master-slave relationship were not invited into the father's household.  But, in so doing, this exposed her to London Society, which can be unkind even to people who are not illegitimate or black or have a non-English parent.  The exclusion of one group by another based on that the former is 'not like us, not good enough for us' strikes a huge chord with me.  Frankly, it makes me angry.  Makes me want to go to Ascot and holler in my best Cockney accent, "C'mon Dover, move your bloomin' a$$!" (Yes, that's a My Fair Lady' reference.  But then, Eliza and Marina have more than a few things in common.)

I have a fondness for novels that not only present a solid story, but also tackle a social issue without being preachy.  'On a Desert Shore' has that, and more!  The variety of plots infused into the John Chase Mysteries by Ms. Rizzolo continues to amaze me!  And even though this is the fourth book in the series, it can be read as a standalone.  The author has given the correct mix of providing some background to bring new readers up to speed while not overdoing it, allowing returning fans to review the previous books quickly and hit the ground running.

While society would gladly grind Marina into a fine powder under their heels, and mail her back to her father, it is doubtful they would resort to murder in order to remove an 'unacceptable' person from their ranks.

I raise my cup of coffee and drink a toast to the health and long life of John Chase, Penelope Wolfe and Edward Buckler!



S.K. Rizzolo earned an MA in literature before becoming a high school English teacher and writer. Her Regency mystery series features a trio of crime-solving friends: a Bow Street Runner, an unconventional lady, and a melancholic barrister. On a Desert Shore is the fourth title in the series following The Rose in the Wheel, Blood for Blood, and Die I Will Not. Rizzolo lives in Los Angeles.

For more information visit S.K. Rizzolo’s website. You can also find her on FacebookGoogle+, and Goodreads.


Click on the link to visit the tour schedule, where you will find more reviews, an interview with the author, and several giveaways!  You can also find out how to sign up to be a blog host for future book tours while you are there!

(Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the author and publishers via Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours in exchange for my objective review.)

1 comment:

  1. It isn't easy for a book to tackle a social issue so well that you don't feel like an opinion is being thrown in your face. I am glad that this book managed to do it so well!