Daughter of Time

richard Even more eviler then Lord Farquar? Mystery writer Josephine Tey tackles the case against England’s monster, Richard the Third, by means of her fictional Scotland Yard detective Alan Grant. Grant has the time for this cold cased because he is laid up in hospital with a broken leg. (English people are “in hospital” or “at university” they do not use a “the” in those circumstances. Absolutely no reason for this, but that’s how they roll.) An actress lady friend brings Grant photos of interesting historical celebrities who have been involved in mischief. Grant is intrigued by Richard’s portrait. Can an enlightened looking fellow like this be guilty of murdering his brother’s pre-teen sons? He and his partner, Sargeant somebody, know a killer when they see one, and Richard ain’t one.

If you are unfamiliar with the case for and against Richard III, you will find this book fascinating. The theory that the Tudor Public Relations Department, pinned the murders on their Plantagenet subsidiary (there was a hostile takeover in 1485) seems plausible and Shakespeare’s nothing but a useful idiot spewing his Tonypandy against Richard. (We leave to you to look that reference up…1910, riots.)

It is also a bit confusing. There are a lot of people in England named Edward, George, Henry and Richard. There also a lot of “of” people, e.g., of Buckingham, of Norfolk, of York, of Ely, of Warwick, etc… You may need to make an org chart.

Very stuffy English writing…even some pot shots at the Welsh, Scots and Irish, but in truth, if you know the story, the book isn’t that compelling. You’d be better off Wikipediaing the players, then watching the documentary Richard III: The King in the Car Park. That show gives you the pro-Richard account via a driven Richard advocate named Philippa, a goofball narrator and a fine-looking CSI girl in a lab coat. Their accomplishment of finding Richard’s actual body 500+ years after he was tossed in a grave is one for the ages.

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