Author : Josephine Tey
Publisher : Touchstone
Publication Date : November 29th, 1995 (first published 1951)
Pages : 206
Stand Alone or Series : #5 in Inspector Alan Grant series (each a separate story)
How obtained: print book from the library
Three Words : mystery, British, historical
Red Flags : none
Summary : Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard is laid up in the hospital after the humiliating accident of having fallen through a trap door while chasing a criminal. He is literally bored out of his mind. When a friend brings some historical portraits for him to browse through during his convalescence, he is taken with a portrait of man who seems both full of suffering and thoughtful. When he finds out this is a portrait of Richard III, he is shocked….THIS is the murderer of small children, the evil hunchback of Shakespeare’s play? As he begins to explore the history and with the help of an American researcher finds sources to figure out the mystery, he starts to doubt the historical version of the events surrounding the murders. Together they try to solve this mystery – did Richard really kill the little princes?
My Take : Remember the whole finding Richard III in a parking lot thing? Maybe you were much like me and thought “Well that’s interesting but I’m not sure why I should care…” But THEN I found out that this was the guy who was supposed to have killed two little boys in order to keep the throne of England and it became infinitely more interesting. So when all of this happened, the blogosphere (at least the booky one) was blowing up with mentions of this book. So that is how I happened on this little gem of a book ( at 206 pages, it doesn’t take very long at all). This appeals to me on so many levels – historical, I am a total sucker for anything having to do with English monarchy especially of the Tudor kind (Richard was the last of the Plantagenets subsequently replaced by Henry VII – a Tudor), mystery – I just love a good mystery and this one is real, library research – there’s no going around interviewing persons of interest in this one, it’s all research at the library, digging through primary sources, making deductions based on such. I’m sure I’m not selling this one very well because it probably sounds crazy boring but somehow Tey manages to make this whole thing completely interesting. I really enjoyed this one and it certainly made me think about Richard III more and definitely made me think I should check out more books in this series. My only issue with the book was two things : one (and this is somewhat a criticism for myself) the family history, some of the other English things were a bit confusing to the point where I just gave up understanding it completely and two, it was a little bit TOO one-sided in defense of Richard. It really didn’t allow for any other points of view. Not much to criticize though…
Rating : eight shoes – solid, interesting, mystery.
Interesting side note – in looking into this whole thing online, there is an actual Richard III society that is trying to clear his name still to this day. If you are interested you can find them at http://www.richardiii.net (Maybe I’m the only nerd who likes to research these things online….)