The Daughter of Time - Josephine Tey My continuing obsession with the fate of the Princes in the Tower led me to this book. The author makes a fairly convincing case for Richard III's innocence, but without citing sources, it's difficult to say how accurate it is, and I found myself wanting to argue a few points with her. But regardless of where you stand on the Richard III issue, the real treat of this book is the fact that the main character, a detective recovering from a broken leg, solves a mystery without ever leaving his hospital bed. Not only that, but the mystery is, of course, hundreds of years old. It's an entertaining feat of trope-subversion, as the detective cannot interview witnesses or gather forensic evidence--he must rely on history books for his clues. History books which are, much like eyewitnesses, of questionable accuracy.

I found the characters to be delightful, especially the interactions between Inspector Alan Grant and his young American "Research Worker," Brent Carradine. Grant's slow, methodical police-work is contrasted nicely with Carradine's passionate enthusiasm for finding the truth, and his equally passionate despondence when he comes across a snag in his research.

The book examines the power of legend versus the power of the truth, and finds that often, things that "everybody knows," even things that end up in history books, are nothing more than myths and rumors given credence by widespread repetition. In this case, we have our mental picture of the villainous Richard III, which is often based on Shakespeare's characterization of him as such, which in turn is based on a history written in the Tudor era by someone who may have been Richard's enemy--in other words, someone who would have plenty of reason to paint him as a villain.

I found myself wishing that the word "Tonypandy" had entered the vernacular in the sense that the two use it here: meaning a piece of "history" that everyone believes is true even when there is clear evidence that it didn't actually happen. It's a great word.