Monday, June 30, 2008

The Daughter of Time

One the the many pseudonyms for Elizabeth Mackintosh, a Scottish mystery writer, was Josephine Tey.  She wrote six mystery novels under the name Josephine Tey, and in five of them her hero is Scotland Yard Inspector Alan Grant. In her most famous book, The Daughter of Time, Grant is laid up in the hospital bored and recovering from a broken leg. His  friends know he has a passion for faces and bring him a pile of portraits to keep him busy.  The subjects of the portraits all have a bit of mystery surrounding them. Grant becomes fascinated by Richard III's portrait, convinced that this troubled but kind looking man  cannot be the hunchbacked murdering villain described by Shakespeare and Sir Thomas More.  He does extensive research with the help of his doctors, nurses and a young American scholar, reviewing the historical case the way he would conduct a contemporary Scotland Yard investigation  and concludes that King Richard was quite innocent of that or any other murder, and that someone else was the actual murderer, tyrant and usurper at the time.

This is a well-written and highly readable mystery novel in which Tey cleverly uses her plot to refute many of the traditional characterizations of Richard III and she encourages you, the reader, to do some research and draw your own conclusions.  After reading this book,  written in 1951, I devoured the other five books she wrote, then discovered to my dismay that she had died in 1952. But for those mystery lovers who  enjoy mysteries within a historical context, if unfamiliar with her work, she is likely to provide you with a number of hours of pleasant reading enjoyment. 

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