Friday, January 23, 2009

Book Report: Daughter of Time

"Grant lay on his high white cot and stared at the ceiling. Stared at it with loathing. He knew by heart evey last minute crack on its nice clean surface. He had made maps of the ceiling and gone exploring on them; rivers, islands, and continents. He had made guessing games of it and discovered hidden objects; faces, birds, and fishes. He had made mathematical calculations of it and rediscovered his childhood; theorems, angles, and triangles. There was practically nothing else he could do but look at it. He hated the sight of it."

I pride myself on being a reader. Sadly I must admit I'd never heard of either Daughter of Time or its author Josephine Tey. When I started working on my 2009 book list, Ms. Tey's name kept coming up in the genre of mysteries. Tey, aka Gordon Daviot, aka Elizabeth MacKintosh, was born in Scotland in 1897 and died in London in 1952, and is considered one of the best English mystery writers of all time. Daughter of Time was her final book.

In addition to being a mystery/detective story, Daughter of Time also has a little bit of historical fiction to it as well. The book calls into account that time in English history when King Richard III ruled, King Henry VII took over and two young princes were murdered in the tower.

For hundreds of years King Richard III was assumed to have been one of the wickedest characters in English histroy, a ruler remembered most for the cold-blooded murder of his two young nephews, boys in line to take the throne before him. Daughter of Time uses 20th century Inspector Alan Grant (flat on his back with a broken leg) to unravel the mystery and come to a striking conclusion.

As I read, I had to continually consult the family tree illustration in the front of the book to keep all the historical characters and their connections straight. Suffice it to say I'm now on close terms with the Nevill's, the Woodville's, the Lancaster's, the Tudor's, the York's, and the Plantagenet's.

I loved, loved, loved the concept, the clues, and the development of the story. This is a small book, but I found it a challenge to read because of all the previously-mentioned characters, but also because it's very British in style and tone. 3 stars.

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