This 1951 novel by Josephine Tey is one of the more unusual historical mysteries out there. Flat on his back in the hospital after falling through a trapdoor, Scotland Yard detective Alan Grant is bored. Really bored.
A kind friend, knowing Grant's ability to gauge someone's character by their face, sends him a pack of postcard portraits of famous historical figures. Most of them Grant pegs accurately enough, but he finds himself fascinated by one man, whose expression is sombre and reminds Grant of a judge. He flips the postcard over —
It's Richard III. Yes, that Richard III, Shakespeare's Richard III, Princes-in-the-Tower Richard III. Having identified one of English history's most notorious murderers as a judge is just embarrassing, so Grant promptly resolves to get at the truth behind the murders. Armed with historical romances, the sainted More and a fluffy American postgrad, he begins a crusade against people who didn't do their historical research.
Practically the bible of the Richard III Society.
Provides examples of:
- Amateur Sleuth: Played with. Grant is a professional detective, but an amateur historian. Brent Carradine is a professional historian but an amateur detective.
- Beauty Equals Goodness: The jumping-off point for the novel is essentially that Richard III is too good-looking to have killed his nephews.
- Clear Their Name: What the investigation ended up being.
- Convicted by Public Opinion: Richard was, and whether he killed the princes or not, that really pisses Grant off.
- Evidence Scavenger Hunt: Carradine does all the legwork, seeing as how Grant has broken his.
- Extremely Cold Case: Twentieth-century detective Grant re-investigates a 450-year-old murder.
- Happily Ever Before: In-universe, the historical novel The Rose of Raby ends at a cheerful family gathering before the early death of Edward IV.
- Make It Look Like an Accident: Grant questions why Richard didn't do this.
- Shown Their Work
- So Was X:"According to the history books he was a man of great ability."
"So was Bluebeard."
"And considerable popularity, it would seem."
"So was Bluebeard."
"A very fine soldier, too," Grant said wickedly, and waited. "No Bluebeard offers?"
- The Summation: Grant writes out the pros and cons of the main two suspects in the boys' murders.
- Take That!: Aside from the obvious, Grant makes some passing jabs at Mary, Queen of Scots and Richard the Lionheart and mocks the popular treatment of the Tonypandy riots.
- Writer on Board: It will not surprise anyone to know that Josephine Tey thought Richard III to be a much-maligned man.