Mary Simonsen's Reviews > The Daughter of Time

The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
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Jul 21, 12


The mystery begins with Detective Inspector Grant of Scotland Yard laid up in the hospital with a broken leg. Supremely bored, a friend brings him museum postcards with portraits of famous historical characters who have mysteries connected with them (e.g., Louis XVII, the son of the guillotined Louis XVI - did he survive his imprisonment in the Concierge during the French Revolution?). Inspector Grant settles on the portrait of Richard III, the English king everyone loves to hate—thanks in large part to Shakespeare.

Was the king who would have given “his kingdom for a horse” the murderer of a beloved brother’s two sons, known to history as The Little Princes in the Tower (as in the Tower of London)? Tey presents one historical fact after another that adds up to Richard being innocent of the charge of murder. But the question remains: If Richard did not kill the little princes, who did? Tey points the finger at his successor, Henry VII, whose claim to the throne hung upon a thread. Henry fought Richard at the Battle of Bosworth because he wanted to be king, and his mother, Margaret Beaufort, really, really wanted him to be king. The War of the Roses settled the matter in favor of the House of Lancaster.

Although Tey piles up the evidence in favor of Richard’s exoneration of the charge of murder, there are some difficulties. We know the princes went into the tower, then a royal residence, during their uncle’s brief reign, but did not come out. In 1933, bones of two children found in the late 17th century under a staircase in the tower were analyzed and since interred at Westminster Abbey. The size of the bones seemed to indicate that the children were ten and twelve, the age they would have been during Richard’s reign.

As I said, this story is history driven. It helps if you are familiar with Plantagenet/Tudor history. Because so much is history, there is little character development of Grant or his American gopher, Carradine. But I found this to be a minor issue.
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