The Scots mystery writer Denise Mina is still concerned with crime, but with this novel, she has turned to historical true crimes. Rizzio is a novella that deals with the 1566 murder of David Rizzio, a musician and favorite of Mary, Queen of Scots.
The murder has been engineered by Lord Lennox and Lord Ruthven, with the aid of Henry Darnley, Mary’s worthless husband. Darnley thinks the shock will cause his hugely pregnant wife to miscarry, most likely causing her to die. Then, he can be king. This is what came of their love match of the year before. To Lennox, Darnley’s father, this outcome would put him in power over his weak son. Lord Ruthven, almost dead already, is the tool of a group of aristocrats about to be dispossessed by parliament.
The novella is mostly description with little dialogue, but it has deep insight into the thoughts and personalities of its characters. It is mostly concerned with the activities of one night, March 9, 1566, in Edinburgh.
It is fast-paced and interesting. Mina has made no attempt to reflect the language of the time, and in fact wrote using modern idioms. Hence, perhaps, the lack of dialogue.