Last night was our third book discussion in the Detective, the Reader and the Author series. We discussed Josephine Tey’s Daughter of Time, her final novel featuring recurring detective Alan Grant. (I admit, reading that name again and again kept me thinking about the long-time comics writer and acquaintance.)
I enjoyed the book, moreso than the previous two. Largely, I think that had to do with the historic nature of the mystery. For those unfamiliar with it, the book has Grant lying in a hospital, recovering from injuries, and he begins to investigate King Richard III and whether or not he was the monster history decided he was. As a result, we were treated to the peeling away of various histories and got down to the source material and Tey makes a convincing argument that Richard was anything but a monster. Most likely, she reasoned, he had no reason to kill the two young princes, the heirs to the throne who vanished.
Anyway, our discussion leader brought to the room his usual well-prepared information about Tey, the story and put it into context. After all, as written in 1951, it was a product of its time, a post-World War II England, and in an era before readily accessible information on the net. Unlike the previous two meetings, he allowed the room to have its say and allowed himself to be dragged off course by the discussion. One woman in the room had read the book nearly four dozen times through the years, finding the historical material utterly fascinating. She even brought in a print of the Richard III painting that got Detective Grant curious about the mystery.
What I found interesting about the conversation and comments made during the break, was that while I readily enjoyed the book, others found it difficult because of the dense history being covered. We’ve all reacted very differently so while I enjoyed Tey, I found myself cool to Ngaio Marsh and only so-so about Raymond Chandler. I signed up for this to expose myself to other mystery writers and our leader, a dean at Yale, clearly has done a good job with the variety.
Next up is P.D. James, and I snagged a copy on my way out last night, sitting with it while waiting to collect Deb. A third British novelist, but a product of the 1970s and thus a different look at the society. Should be fun.