The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
Series: Inspector Alan Grant #5
Published by Dell on 1968 (first published 1951)
Source: Purchased
Genres: Vintage Mystery
Pages: 189
Format: Paperback
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Scotland Yard Inspector Alan Grant is intrigued by a portrait of Richard III. Could such a sensitive face actually belong to a heinous villain — a king who killed his brother's children to secure his crown? Grant seeks what kind of man Richard was and who in fact killed the princes in the tower.

I picked up The Daughter of Time at the local used bookstore a year or so ago. i had no idea what it was about and had never read anything by Josephine Tey before, but it’s one of those mysteries – the ones that make it onto the “best” lists, the ones that any true mystery lover should read.

The title refer to a quote from Francis Bacon: “Truth is the daughter of time, not of authority.” It’s the same idea as history is written by the victor. Not all “history” is strictly truth, it’s a version someone has told that has stuck. I wish I knew more about British history, particularly Richard III, or that I had read Shakespeare’s play. If I go back to read this again, I may do a little research first. That being said, it is truly an enjoyable book on its own.

Our detective, Alan Grant, is laid up in the hospital and a friend, Marta, brings him a bunch of pictures including one of Richard III to help soothe his boredom. He becomes fascinated with the portrait, not seeing in the face the murderer that Richard III is known to be.

King Richard III by an unknown artist, late 16th century. Image from the National Portrait Gallery

What follows is a mystery unlike any I’ve read, at least as far as I can remember. Grant, along with the help of a young historian, sets out to learn the truth about whether Richard was truly responsible for his nephews’ deaths. We never leave the hospital room, no one is ever in danger, the players in the mystery are all long-dead, but it still grabbed my attention. It’s a fascinating story and Tey does an excellent job at presenting the evidence. It’s also a good reminder that not all facts can be taken at face value. I don’t know if he killed the nephews or not, but I don’t know that it matters to this particular story.

I don’t pass mysteries onto my mother very often, but I think this is one that I’ll send her way. It’s that good. Really, it’s amazing how engrossing a story it manages to be for nothing really happening, except lots and lots of research and reasoning. I did get a little confused with all the names and positions at times, but there are several times when Grant reviews everything which always helped straighten me out.

About Josephine Tey

Josephine Tey was a pseudonym used by Elizabeth MacKintosh (25 July 1896 – 13 February 1952), a Scottish author best known for her mystery novels. As Josephine Tey, she wrote six mystery novels including Scotland Yard’s Inspector Alan Grant.

The first of these, ‘The Man in the Queue’ (1929) was published under the pseudonym of Gordon Daviot, whose name also appears on the title page of another of her 1929 novels, ‘Kit An Unvarnished History’. She also used the Daviot by-line for a biography of the 17th century cavalry leader John Graham, which was entitled ‘Claverhouse’ (1937). Mackintosh also wrote plays (both one act and full length), some of which were produced during her lifetime, under the pseudonym Gordon Daviot. These plays often featured biblical or historical themes.

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Scattershot by Bill Pronzini

Scattershot by Bill Pronzini Scattershot by Bill Pronzini
Series: Nameless Detective #8
Published by PaperJacks on May 1987 (first published 1982)
Source: Purchased
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 172
Format: Paperback
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Business is booming for Nameless; he's started in on three new cases in one week. But every single one of them turns bad some way. In the first, a husband disappears from a car that Nameless has been following. In the second, a woman is mysteriously murdered while Nameless stands outside her bungalow. In the third, a valuable ring disappears from a locked room that Nameless has been guarding. The papers are full of bad publicity. After being at the scene of two homicides, everyone is suspicious of him. He is at risk of losing his PI license. At the same time, he recently proposed to the woman of his dreams and she is becoming more distant from him every day.

Nameless is having a really bad week. Three cases, all of which should be quick, easy money, go awry, landing him in the hot seat. And, to top it off, thing are not going great with his girlfriend.

I don’t really have much to say about the book, even though I definitely enjoyed it. It’s a quick story and I love how Nameless manages to solve the crimes. All three are basically locked room mysteries and getting to the answers take both seeing the clues and having that flash of insight. I also appreciated that even though we do have three mysteries, they’re actually unrelated. Too often in mysteries, everything conveniently ties together; here they don’t, which feels  more realistic to me.

I could have done without the moping about the girlfriend. I’m pretty sure that his pressuring her was not helping their relationship. This is the first full-length Nameless story I’ve read, so I’m not sure how it compares to others, but I’m adding it to the list of series I pick up when I see them at used bookstores.

About Bill Pronzini

Bill Pronzini (born April 13, 1943) is an American writer of detective fiction. He is also an active anthologist, having compiled more than 100 collections, most of which focus on mystery, western, and science fiction short stories.
He is married to Marcia Muller with whom he has collaborated on several novels.

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Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty

Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty
Published by Orbit on January 31, 2017
Source: Purchased
Genres: Science Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 364
Format: Paperback
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A space adventure set on a lone ship where the clones of a murdered crew must find their murderer -- before they kill again.

It was not common to awaken in a cloning vat streaked with drying blood.

At least, Maria Arena had never experienced it. She had no memory of how she died.

That was also new; before, when she had awakened as a new clone, her first memory was of how she died.Maria's vat was in the front of six vats, each one holding the clone of a crew member of the starship Dormire, each clone waiting for its previous incarnation to die so it could awaken. And Maria wasn't the only one to die recently...

Six Wakes is one I picked up based on the blurb – a locked-room mystery in space, a sci-fi mystery.

The sci-fi hook this time around was cloning. The laws around cloning are strict, but basically, we have figured out how to make mindmaps, putting all of a person’s memories, thoughts, personalities into a code that can be transferred into that person’s cloned body, making an individual practically immortal and able to inherit their own belongings/money. There’s some philosophical discussion about what makes a person a person, what is a soul, etc., but it’s not really dealt with in depth.

The mystery set up is great. Six people wake up in fresh clone bodies, with the clear evidence that their previous bodies had been murdered, obviously by one of them, since everyone else on the generational ship is in “storage.” One or more of them is the killer, but no one knows who – their memories from the last 25 years have disappeared and the ship’s AI is down.

I loved the mix of solving the current puzzle and giving us the characters’ backgrounds; a couple of them had particularly fascinating backstories. The each have their reasons for being on the ship, for needing a fresh start, and how those motivations clash adds to the tension. Even though each has lost 25 years, they do have the mindmap from just after they first boarded the ship, and most of them have lived several lives, done things good and bad. I was a little disappointed with the big reveal, but overall it was a solid book.

About Mur Lafferty

Mur Lafferty is the author of Six Wakes and The Shambling Guides series from Orbit books, as well as several self pubbed novels and novellas, including the award winning Afterlife series. She is the host of podcasts I Should Be Writing and Ditch Diggers. She is the recipient of the John Campbell Award for best new writer, the Manly Wade Wellman Award, and joined the Podcast Hall of Fame in its inaugural year.

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