The Greatest Mystery Novel Ever (Maybe)

I’ve been reading The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey (1951), and wishing it would go on for several volumes. This truly is one of the greatest mysteries ever written: I guarantee it.

Here, a police detective confined by injuries to a hospital bed, bored beyond endurance, finds escape in trying to solve a mystery from the year 1483: who killed the two little princes in the Tower of London? Was it Richard III, their uncle? Was he the bloodthirsty fiend Shakespeare painted him out to be?

Applying modern police methods to the case, and his own wide experience as a detective, Allan Grant finds his whole grasp of history suddenly unraveling. What starts him off is this picture of King Richard III–the last of the Plantagenets, and the last English king to die in battle.

Take a good look at that face. This portrait was painted from life. Grant cannot believe it is the face of a monster. It’s a face that has seen much trouble, with more looming up ahead, and has known suffering.

I’d like you to compare it with the face of Henry VII, first king of the Tudor dynasty, the man who killed Richard and took his throne.

Seriously–would you buy a used car from this man? He looks like a Democrat. He looks like he’d steal the teeth out of your mouth.

True, God warns us against judging by outward appearances. But that doesn’t mean we must automatically discard first impressions. Sometimes the inner man shapes the outward man.

Meanwhile, I’ll be sorry when I’ve finished The Daughter of Time. I’ve read a great many mysteries, but never encountered another story like this one.