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Start by marking “The Daughter of Time (Inspector Alan Grant, #5)” as Want to Read: Scotland Yard Inspector Alan Grant is intrigued by a portrait of Richard III. Police Inspector Grant, flat on his back in hospital, solves the historical mystery of Richard III and the Little.
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Real life is nowhere near as kind as that. Books, especially in science fiction and fantasy, can open eyes to the possibilities of worlds beyond this one but I want to focus on the only novel that has ever made me change my mind about something — and in this case it is about the identity of a murderer. The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey was published in shortly before her death from cancer. The book features Inspector Alan Grant, who is confined to a hospital bed having fallen through a trap door while pursuing a villain. Not only is Richard innocent, but there is absolutely no case against Richard.

This means accepting that not only did Shakespeare get things wrong, so did Sir Thomas More with his History of England.

The Daughter of Time

For example, who gave this country bail, insisted Acts of Parliament were written in English, who insisted sellers of land ensured they had the right to sell the land to a purchaser in an attempt to stop a well known fraud of someone selling the same piece of land over and over again and who made jury tampering illegal?

Richard III. Who gave this country the Star Chamber , where trials could be held in secret, and who tried to backdate his reign by one day so he could claim all his opponents were traitors and seize their estates for himself? Henry VII. Who persecuted the Plantagenet dynasty knowing their claim to the throne was so much better than his own? And who finished the job with the really nasty execution of the Countess of Salisbury, Margaret Plantagenet, who was an old lady at the time?

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Who also nominated another nephew for the throne, John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln, when his own son died and did not try to foist his illegitimate son on to the nation? And the biggest oddity? Bills of Attainder were used to condemn nobles and royals without trial. So given Henry did this, why did he not accuse Richard of the murder of the boys in this document? Richard was dead, many of his followers were likewise or at best were in exile, and the country was sick of the fighting of the Wars of the Roses. Officially the Bosworth Battle in where Richard died was the last part of these wars, but this is open to question given there were rebellions against Henry.

This is strange and Alan Grant concludes there could only be one reason for this — that the boys were not missing and were, in fact, alive. Would she really have done that if he was guilty of killing her sons? Why did she never accuse him? Certainly enough people were convinced at the time it was possible the younger Prince survived.

It was also common practice for the bodies of dead royals especially kings to be produced so the public could see that they were deceased precisely to stop rumours of them still being alive happening and as a result preventing rebellions done in their name. But one thing has struck me as really odd since reading The Daughter of Time. Henry did not dare ask her either. All copies were to be destroyed unread by anyone. The only reason we know about the act is one copy survived and was copied by a monk into the Croyland Chronicle where it was discovered a century later by Sir George Buck, who wrote a defence of Richard III.

Henry VII could have just publicly dismissed this act and proved it was wrong. His decision to destroy it unread tells me he could not. The music is evocative and conjures up a bygone era and is worth listening to for its own sake.

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On finishing listening to the episodes, I had to get the book and read it for myself and am so glad I did. On my last visit to the Tower, they held a vote for whom visitors thought was responsible for the deaths of the boys and although most still voted for Richard III, a significant number of people, including myself, voted for Henry VII, and the gap between the two kings was narrowing. The Daughter of Time had recently been broadcast again and I think it had a significant effect on this vote. Dangerous book?

I think so! The only way for Henry to establish the Tudor dynasty was to marry Elizabeth of York and produce heirs and remove anyone with a better claim, such as the princes. Indeed they would have made sure they did not and would have used agents. I was fascinated when the remains of Richard III were found in the car park in Leicester and the programmes that accompanied this discovery.

The king is due to be re-interred in Leicester Cathedral this time in a special set of ceremonies in March this year.

Oh and one other thing. Why not? He really could not let them survive. A monarch who had publicly declared them bastards could.

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  • Grant had hesitated, analysing for the first time his process of selection. It had not been a matter of reasoning. He had not said: 'That man's face has this characteristic or that characteristic, therefore he is the accused person. At last, having delved into his subconscious, he blurted: 'He was the only one of the twelve with no lines on his face.

    They had laughed at that. But Grant, once he had pulled the thing into the light, saw how his instinct had worked and recognised the reasoning behind it.

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    I mean that the idiot is irresponsible. The idiot is the standard of irresponsibility. All those twelve men in that parade were thirty-ish, but only one had an irresponsible face. So I picked him at once. After that it had become a mild joke at the Yard that Grant could 'pick them at sight'. And the Assistant Commissioner had once said teasingly: 'Don't tell me that you believe that there is such a thing as a criminal face, Inspector. But Grant had said no, he wasn't as simple as that. You can tell what the normal run of disreputable women look like by a walk down Bond Street any day between five and six, and yet the most notorious woman in London looks like a cold saint.

    But Grant's interest in faces had remained and enlarged until it became a conscious study. A matter of case records and comparisons. It was, as he had said, not possible to put faces into any kind of category, but it was possible to characterise individual faces. In a reprint of a famous trial, for instance, where photographs of the principal actors in the case were displayed for the public's interest, there was never any doubt as to which was the accused and which the judge. Occasionally, one of the counsel might on looks have changed places with the prisoner in the dock—counsel were after all a mere cross-section of humanity, as liable to passion and greed as the rest of the world, but a judge had a special quality; an integrity and a detachment.

    The Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey

    So, even without a wig, one did not confuse him with the man in the dock, who had had neither integrity nor detachment. Maria's James, having been dragged from his 'cubby-hole', had evidently enjoyed himself, and a fine selection of offenders, or their victims, kept Grant entertained until The Midget brought his tea.

    As he tidied the sheets together to put them away in his locker his hand came in contact with one that had slipped off his chest and had lain all the afternoon unnoticed on the counterpane. He picked it up and looked at it. It was the portrait of a man dressed in the velvet cap and slashed doublet of the late fifteenth century. A man about thirty-five or thirty-six years old, lean and clean shaven.

    He wore a rich jewelled collar, and was in the act of putting a ring on the little finger of his right hand. But he was not looking at the ring. He was looking off into space. Of all the portraits Grant had seen this afternoon this was the most individual. It was as if the artist had striven to put on canvas something that his talent was not sufficient to translate into paint. The expression in the eyes—that most arresting and individual expression—had defeated him.

    So had the mouth: he had not known how to make lips so thin and so wide look mobile, so the mouth was wooden and a failure. What he had best succeeded in was in the bone structure of the face: the strong cheekbones, the hollows below them, the chin too large for strength. Grant paused in the act of turning the thing over, to consider the face a moment longer. A judge?

    A soldier? A prince? Someone used to great responsibility, and responsible in his authority. Someone too-conscientious. A worrier; perhaps a perfectionist. A man at ease in a large design, but anxious over details.

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    A candidate for gastric ulcer. Someone, too, who had suffered ill-health as a child. He had that incommunicable, that indescribable look that childhood suffering leaves behind it; less positive than the look on a cripple's face, but as inescapable.