Josephine Tey's The Daughter of Time is famous as a mystery in which the detective does all his detecting while flat on his back in a hospital bed. Alan Grant is an Inspector at Scotland Yard who is bored out of his mind while recuperating. Knowing of his interest in faces, a friend brings him prints of historical figures with mysteries attached. Grant is perturbed to have placed Richard III on the bench rather than in the dock; he starts by refreshing his memory about Richard's crime, the murder of the Princes in the Tower, and is slowly drawn into investigating the matter with the help of a fresh-faced young American.
I have heard people critique the solution that Grant comes to, but honestly I don't care. The fun of this book for me is always in watching the process, slowly accumulating information and fitting all the pieces together. It's really not like anything else that I'm aware of, and probably couldn't be done again.
This time around I listened to it as an audiobook, recorded off BBC 7. I don't know who the reader was, since the portions I recorded didn't have that information, but whoever he is, he's not any better at doing an American accent that the vast majority of British actors. I do have to say that out loud, I found the conclusions a little strongly stated; practicing law has given me a deep suspicion of statements that something is clear, simple, obvious, or (a favorite of Grant's) inevitable. Also, Grant's certainty that he can tell character through faces [*] grates a little more out loud, even accepting it as the quirk necessary to get the plot going. I think it's probably a book best read rather than listened to, but it's definitely worth reading.
[*] As I recall, Miss Pym Disposes, an earlier Tey novel, is an interesting contrast as it also has a protagonist convinced that the face is an infalliable guide to character. However, I found it a thoroughly unpleasant book and have no desire to re-read it to confirm my recollection.
#1 :: Dennis wrote on February 14, 2006 at 11:06 AM:
Subscribe to comments on this post: RSS feed
Post a comment: