“Rizzio,” a short novel of historic treachery by the adventurous Scottish writer Denise Mina, is about principally in Edinburgh’s Holyrood Palace in early 1566. In residence at Holyrood is the 23-year-old Mary, Queen of Scots, and her husband and king consort, Lord Darnley, with whose baby she is six months pregnant. Parliament is in session, about to strip the Queen’s remaining rivals of their powers and lands. These rivals—plus the “Chaseabout Lords” already exiled or slighted by Mary—have one thing else in thoughts: They plan to grab energy after killing the Queen’s personal secretary, David Rizzio, on the premise that he’s a papal spy.
“They resent her energy,” thinks Rizzio of the Queen’s enemies, “her intercourse, her non secular devotion, her being pregnant which has the potential to hold on her Catholic line. They resent the compromise she represents, that there is probably not a Protestant Europe, now and for ever.” The conspiracy’s most extremely positioned participant is the Queen’s personal partner, the envious and perfidious Darnley.