Truth, Fiction, and 'The Daughter of Time'

Geraldine Barnes


Agatha Christie (1890-1976) is widely regarded as the architect and supreme exponent of the English “clue-puzzle” detective story, in which a trail of genuine clues and red herrings tests the deductive powers of investigator and reader in the solving of a crime which has been committed in a small community from within a limited group of suspects, but it was The Daughter of Time (1951), a clue-puzzle story by Christie’s less prolific contemporary Josephine Tey, that the British Crime Writers’ Association voted as the top crime fiction novel of all time in 1990. Although it continues to be acknowledged as a classic of the genre, The Daughter of Time, which investigates the suspicious disappearance of the two young sons of Edward IV from the Tower of London, shortly before Edward’s brother succeeded to the throne as Richard III, takes the detective story into the domain of “wild history”–the ingenious tying of history’s loose ends–and one of its common themes, the Secret Survival.

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