e a m harris

Roaming the byways of literature

Archive for the tag “detective fiction”

30 Day Book Challenge – day 9: A book I’ve read more than once

I don’t often read books more than once, but lately re-enjoyed one I’d read years ago.

The book is Josephine Tey‘s Daughter of Time. It was first published in 1951, but in my 77661opinion has aged well and is still relevant and fun.

A detective, Alan Grant, is convalescing in hospital and is bored. A friend suggests that he puts his skills to work on a historical crime. Grant selects Richard III and the question of whether or not he murdered the princes in the Tower.

With friends doing any actual legwork, Grant reassesses the evidence and comes to the conclusion that Richard has suffered from a bad press and was probably not as evil as history (and Shakespeare) has painted him.

I think that today there’s enough doubt about Richard’s wickedness for most people to regard him as possibly maligned. But this is a recent happening and he has been held up as an example of evil for centuries.

As a revelation of the effect of ‘PR’ this book is shocking. Those who get to write history (not Richard who died before he could write his version) get the last word and can condemn someone to be blamed for something horrible that they never did. I doubt if Richard III’s reputation is the only one that has come down to us distorted, and it certainly won’t be the last.

As a work of scholarship the book is light and easy to read but appears to be historically accurate. As a detective story it works well with several suspects and an satisfying ending. Would that all history books were so easy to read.

I think I can safely say this is one of my all-time favourites and I may well read it again sometime.

Cover art from Goodreads.

A discovery

It’s a week since I blogged. I certainly didn’t mean it to be so long, but the approaching hols have taken up so much time – not to mention putting the house back together after the builders left.

In amongst all this I’ve discovered a new fictional detective. Those who aren’t crime fiction aficionados won’t understand how great this is. A whole new series to seek out, read, compare, anticipate the next one. Marvellous.

The detective in question is Inspector Singh, based in Singapore but often sent by his superiors (who don’t much like having him around) to other countries in the region.

The book I’ve just read is A Bali Conspiracy Most Foul. It reads like a classic mystery but has a dramatic, thriller-like ending. The characters are memorable and I give it an ‘A’ for sense of place – now Bali is on my list of places to visit.

Inspector Singh’s creator is Shamini Flint, who lives in Singapore and is a lawyer by training. She’s already written several Singh books and looks young enough to write many more.

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