Sunday, February 3, 2019

Books around the world: Scotland

Hello, I just finished a book, The Daughter Of Time, by Scottish author, Josephine Tey (Elizabeth MacKintosh), a great mystery writer. This book version is the one with the introduction by crime novelist Robert Barnard. The Daughter Of Time aims to solve an historical mystery: Did Richard III of England really murder his nephews, the princes in the tower? I was drawn to this topic because I've written about it myself. My first paper in grad school was an historiographic exploration of it. I looked at five-hundred years of historians' writings about Richard, looking for the trends. I've also written a time travel novel where one of my characters who believes in Richard's innocence goes back in time and warns Richard about an important battle, saving his life, and therefore changing the history of England.

In The Daughter of Time, an injured police inspector for Scotland Yard is in the hospital recovering and needs something interesting to occupy his time, so he decides to look into the Richard mystery. He had seen his portrait, and it just didn't seem as if the man could be the evil one who killed his own nephews and took the throne after his brother, the king, died.

With the help of a researcher, the inspector studies primary source documents as well as secondary sources. He's not impressed with the account of historians who seemed to gloss over the topic, so going right to the original sources helps him delve deeper and gain a richer understanding.

What's really impressive about this book is that obscure documents are discussed, and these bridge gaps between the larger events that happened in history. Near the end of the book, when the inspector puts information about the two suspects side-by-side (King Richard III and his successor, Henry Tudor--King Henry VII), patterns and probabilities of who killed the boys become exquisitely clear. What convicted Richard in the eyes of many would not hold up in a court of law nowadays. It was very flimsy circumstantial evidence that turned him into a villain.

The exploration, the investigation, using real evidence, was very well done in this book and is quite convincing. Also, the story was in the form of a mystery novel and so was entertaining. For those who like a good mystery, especially cold cases--this one's over five-hundred years old--you are likely to find this book compelling.




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