“Truth is the daughter of time,” someone once said, and Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard now has a lot time on his hands. Consigned to lie on his back for several weeks with only the ceiling above his hospital bed to occupy his mind, he finds relief from boredom by digging into the 15th-century true-crime case of the Princes in the Tower. Posterity has convicted King Richard III of murdering two young nephews for political gain. Yet Grant, having recently glanced at a portrait of that maligned monarch, believes that Richard probably wasn’t the homicidal type. Victors write the history of their time, Grant notes, and in this instance the victorious Tudor faction had a strong interest in depicting Richard as a monster who well deserved to be the last of the Plantagenets. Aided by an eager American researcher, Grant exculpates Richard of the crime (or does so to his own satisfaction, at any rate) and thereby proves (to the satisfaction of Tey, apparently) that a police detective makes a better historian than the hidebound professional scholar. Action and suspense of the usual kind are wholly absent from this oft-praised tale; it’s a model display of armchair—or, to be precise, bedside—detection. For those who like their detection straight and unadorned by conventional plotting, it’s a treat. Others, though, might grow weary of all the talk-ridden prose.
JOSEPHINE TEY. The Daughter of Time (1951).