(93) The Daughter of Time, Josephine Tey

This was a random audiobook selection, and I was completely entranced. I don’t usually read a book from the middle of the series (this is 5 of 6), but it worked fine as a standalone. I read Miss Pym Disposes a while ago– maybe in March? I was in a mystery spiral– and liked it, and I’ve seen Three by Tey in at least fifteen used bookstores and old libraries since I was little (no idea why I noticed that name, as opposed to others, but there are some volumes that just live in memory. Probably at least 50 more that I could name as always around but that I’ve never read.) Anyway. So.

Alan Grant is a detective with Scotland Yard, he’s bedridden after an accident in a case, and bored out of his mind. (Such a more productive way to deal with convalescence than getting out the binoculars!) A friend brings him a bunch of prints of historical faces (he prides himself on being able to identify a criminal from their face, but it has more to do with the marks character makes on the individual face than a criminal type face. Still iffy in terms of race and disability, but maybe not as bad as Miss Marple’s methodology) (also, uses the term idiot throughout, idiot as a blanket/non-responsible term, and calls his nurses the midget and the Amazon, both (at the very least) classification by body-type rather than individuality. Of course, that’s part of the point, he’s cantankerous and ailing, and people are rarely at their best in those circumstances. And his mental names for them don’t seem to actually affect them negatively in anyway, and they are personal to those nurses, not relying on stereotypes…. anyway.)

One of the pictures is of Richard 3, and Grant is shocked by his inability to identify him by his facial characteristics as a criminal. Rather, he looks in pain, sad, tormented, too responsible (the interpretation shifts with various perspectives.) Grant begins interested in researching the story of the princes in the tower, and ends up developing another answer to the accusation of murder. This is research by drips, decidedly pre-internet/computer/personal device– he collects information from books and from visitors, finally acquiring a research assistant with an academic turn of mind.

I listened to a version read by Derek Jacobi, and it was mostly excellent– the American accent could have been a LITTLE less Cagney, but we barbarians must take what we get. And the story was so interesting. I actually feel like I *get* this part of history so much more than I did before– maybe I’ll continue reading in this area.


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