BLURB: “Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard, recuperating from a broken leg, becomes fascinated with a contemporary portrait of Richard III that bears no resemblance to the Wicked Uncle of history. Could such a sensitive, noble face actually belong to one of the world’s most heinous villains – a venomous hunchback who may have killed his brother’s children to make his crown secure? Or could Richard have been the victim, turned into a monster by the usurpers of England’s throne? Grant determines to find out once and for all, with the help of the British Museum and an American scholar, what kind of man Richard Plantagenet really was and who killed the Princes in the Tower.”
REVIEW: Tey’s book was, I felt, very cleverly written, using the realms of fiction to examine and explore the case of the Princes in the Tower with all the thoroughness and research of a non-fiction study. As a historian myself the mystery of who killed the Princes in the Tower has always fascinated me, and just as Grant does in the novel I had reached the conclusion that Richard III was not, in fact, their murderer, though I differ with Tey on who I think was the murderer instead. Through putting such an investigation within the realms of fiction Tey is able to make the story two-dimensional; the reader gains enjoyment from learning about Grant, though we only see small snippets of his life as he is confined to a hospital bed and all of those he meets are either visiting friends, hospital staff or his helpful researcher Carradine. Grant’s mission to find out the truth about the Princes in the Tower and vindicate Richard initially starts as a means of amusing himself to beat the boredom of being hospitalised and immobile, yet it soon becomes an obsession. The conclusions Grant draws are based on solid historical evidence, and quotations from scholarly works on the subject are used throughout the book to back up his ideas, just like in a piece of non-fiction. Although I appreciate the cleverness of this two-dimensional model of writing, I did sometimes find it to be difficult to read as a fiction novel as there was so much factual evidence involved; I feel Tey might have been better off using her extensive research to write a full, non-fiction vindication of Richard III, rather than wrapping the mystery up within the confines of a historical fiction piece.