Monday, June 20, 2011

CR3 #51: The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

I was talking to my mum the other evening, and she asked about what I'd been reading lately (partly because she is genuinely interested, and partly because I pass along a lot of my books to her, and she hoping to get some good stuff instead of YET ANOTHER BOOK about a horrific fire or shipwreck or something). I said that since it is now summer, I have shifted into trashy fiction/mystery gear. I explained that is what summer is for...even though I am no longer in school and thus get to pick ALL my own reading material. I then went on to explain that my latest trash mystery was a defense of Richard III, using historical documents to show he was innocent of the murder of the two young princes. She said "That doesn't sound trashy at all."

Tey's detective Arthur Grant is laid up in the hospital after a painful accident. He has hurt his back, is unable to move, and is slowly losing his mind from inactivity. Soon, a friend drops by with a stack of photos, some of famous historical criminals and some of their alleged victims. One reproduction of a painting catches his eye, and soon he finds himself trying to gather all the information he can on the infamous King Richard III. With help from his friends, Grant begins to investigate the case against Richard (using his modern methods of detection). He discovers in short order that everything he thought he knew about the situation could very well be false.

Tey quotes historical documents as she lays out her case for the innocence of Richard, as well as pointing the blame in another direction. Obviously, hers is not the first book to bring this information to light (a fact that is mentioned within the text itself) but it does so in an easy to read and entertaining way. I enjoyed the character of Detective Grant, and was right there with him as he reveled in his discoveries and vented his frustration. The story moved along a good clip, tying the historical facts together in an unintrusive literary frame. I felt like I was learning, but not being lectured to.

I'd definitely recommend this to anyone who is interested in historical mysteries or in quiet detective stories.

2 comments:

Jen K said...

I was just looking at this one a few weeks ago on Amazon - I'm going to the UK for vacation soon, so I went on a spree buying books on English history (which I haven't read yet since I had to have them sent to my parents because I was between addresses) and then this popped up in the recommended for you list.

The Caustic Critic said...

I definitely recommend it for you if you get a chance. It's interesting and full of history, but not at all dry.