The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey (♦♦♦♦½)

Inspector Alan Grant Book 5

Inspector Alan Grant with Scotland Yard is recuperating in the hospital after a leg injury. He is feeling crabby from lying on his back, staring at the ceiling. A friend, who knows him too well, thinks that there is nothing like a well constructed mystery for Grant to get his groove back; thus, said friend brings him photographs of famous faces, one of whom is Richard III.

Before seeing the royal’s name printed in the back, Grant first impression is that it seems like a man of strong conviction, of integrity. He should know. Human behavior and faces are his bread and butter. Then, why is he surprised to learn that the face on the photograph is of one of the most infamous murderers in history?

Armed with history books that may or may not contain contemporary accounts, and a sidekick all too willing to dig into historical records to unearth the truth, Grant will shed light into the life and character traits of a much misunderstood and misjudged historical figure.

In the last few weeks, I have been busy watching Season 1 of The Hollow Crown, a show that brings to life, in feature-length episodes, Shakespeare’s historical plays on the War of the Roses. Also, last year I watched Starz miniseries The White Queen, an adaptation of the first four books in Philippa Gregory’s series on the same topic. The White Queen covers Edward IV’s reign, Richard III’s succession, and the coming to power of Henry Tudor, named Henry VII. Thus, I was acquainted with the topic and the key players in The Daughter of Time.

Despite the relative brevity of The Daughter of Time by modern standards, Josephine Tey has managed to write an intriguing mystery, and convince the reader of the solidity of the case. Alan Grant is a great character choice to unravel this mystery, because he starts with the basics, what is known in school history textbooks, and try to discern fact from fiction about generally accepted contemporary accounts. It turns out that much of those accounts were written under Tudor reign, which benefited Henry VII of all people; there’s little wonder then that the figure of Richard III has been much maligned. With his knowledge of human behavior, little by little, Alan Grant, aided by his sidekick, deconstruct historically accepted facts, and builds a case that will make you wonder not only if he got it right, but what other cases of distorted history have been laid before your trusting eyes.

Comments

  1. I'm so glad you read and enjoyed this. I read it just a couple of years ago and found it to be one of the most perfect and engrossing mysteries I had ever read. And I've read a lot of mysteries!

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    1. Although I forgot to give you credit, it was because of your review that I put this book on my wishlist until it came out recently for sale on Amazon. So, thanks, Dorothy! You're right, you should know because you read lots of them.

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  2. How interesting and cool that you found a novel/mystery that deals with the same time period as those shows. But, is Grant solving a current mystery or one from the past? I guess I will have to check out the book. I have never read Tey.

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    1. He solves the case of Richard III being a murderer (past mystery) based on historical sources. BTW, this was named by British and American publications as one of the best mysteries of all time, and I wholeheartedly agree.

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  3. Oh Richard III in Shakespeare always intrigued me with his hunchback -- sending people to the Tower! Remember when his bones were found & exhumed not long ago? The Tey book, solved by Alan Grant, seems like a fascinating mystery & topic, nice review.

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    1. Thanks, Susan. It was a fascinating mystery. I haven't watched Richard III yet, but I'm fuming because both Edward IV episodes are missing. Darn Google!

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