“…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.”
Recuperating from a broken leg suffered in pursuit of a lawbreaker, he is bored to tears in his hospital bed. Hoping to alleviate his hospital-induced boredom, Alan Grant’s Marta, the famous actress, takes pity on him and brings him several photographs of historical figures that she hopes will pique his interest.
“Marta up-ended the quarto envelope she was carrying, and spilled a collection of paper sheets over his chest.
“What is this?”
“Faces,” said Marta, delightedly. “Dozens of faces for you. Men, women, and children. All sorts, conditions, and sizes.”
Fascinated with the portrait of Richard III, Grant and a young acquaintance of Marla’s set out to disprove the theory that the king murdered his two nephews, and the story moves on from there.
At times I have to say I had to re-read sentences more than once to figure out which historical character the author really meant. Even with my recent reading and interest in English history, my grasp of monarchies, successions, plots and counter-plots was not as strong as I thought, and at times I found my memory needed a boost! I found it was not uncommon for this particular mystery novel of Tey’s to inspire a thirst for more historical detail and the titles and authors Tey cites during Grant’s research are a good starting point.
The novel’s ending is no surprise; in fact the author makes a case for her theory in the very early chapters, and the rest of the book leads the reader through the many paths that Inspector Grant takes to prove his theory. I found this book interesting and in general, (with occasions of wading through dusty historical detail), also a fast read.
Once I finished “Daughter of Time”, I really enjoyed this review.
This article from the New Yorker shows the effect Tey’s novel had on influencing more research.