Monday, October 6, 2014


If you had told me I’d become engrossed in a book about whether a relatively modern detective (1951) could determine who killed Richard III’s nephews 400 years ago, I would have said you were wrong.


Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time hooked me. Scotland Yard Inspector Alan Grant is laid up with a leg fracture. To pass the time, he fastens on Richard III and whether he killed his two nephews to assure his otherwise illegitimate claim to the throne.

After Grant determines Richard did not commit or enlist others to commit the crime, Grant finds other historians have agreed. But those historians are well after the fact.

The current historians including the one Bryant sarcastically refers to as Saint Thomas More, are pandering to Henry Tudor.

King Henry Tudor has reason to smear Richard and his claim to the throne.

History is unreliable. That is one theme of this book. At one point, Bryant’s Sergeant Willis says, “I’ll never again believe anything I read in a history book, as long as I live, so help me.”

The credibility of witnesses is another theme. “The point is that every single man who was there knows that the story is nonsense, and yet it has never been contradicted,” Brent Carradine, Bryant’s helpful researcher says. “It will never be overtaken now. It is a completely untrue story grown to a legend while the men who knew it to be untrue looked on and said nothing.”

And then Carradine adds, “Give me research. After all, the truth of anything at all doesn’t lie in someone’s account of it. It lies in all the small facts of time. An advertisement in a paper. The sale of a house. The price of a ring.”

And Bryant replies, “This is the first time I’ve seen you look like a policeman.”

One other point. The media and arts contribute. Richard III is Shakespeare’s “my kingdom for a horse” king. Shakespeare bought into Saint Thomas More’s myth and made it famous.

So clearly, for me, this was a great book.

How did I come upon it? I ran across a modern mystery novel which uses a fictional Josephine Tey as its main character. (Josephine Tey is the pen name of Elizabeth MacKintosh).

I thought I should read a Tey book before reading that modern book, and when I read about Josephine Tey, I found many people see The Daughter of Time as her mystery classic.

Who am I to avoid reading a mystery classic?

If you haven’t read The Daughter of Time, you might want to do as I did--indulge yourself in a mystery classic.


pattinase (abbott) said...

Always a favorite of mine although I think Richard III was a monster.

Joe Barone said...

Patti, I don't suppose there is any way of knowing if Tey is correct and all truth is relative.