The Princes in the Tower & other mysteries — British Isles Friday
Welcome back to British Isles Friday! We had a great turn-out last week with a huge variety of posts from book reviews to TV show commentary to trip photos. My personal favorite was the description of tea with the Queen at Brona’s Books. Check out last week’s link list for great stories and pictures. And, join us this week, with the link list below for all of your British Isles’ posts.
My post today is a book review of The Murders of Richard III, a Jacqueline Kirby novel, by Elizabeth Peters. I’m also linking up yesterday’s review of Ettiquette & Espionage and Curtsies & Conspiracies the first two novels in The Finishing School series by Gail Carriger.
Book: The Murders of Richard III by Elizabeth Peters
Publication date: 1974
Source: purchased paperback
Summary: Jacqueline Kirby is an American librarian last seen in Italy solving the mystery of a student’s death at a pagan temple in The Seventh Sinner. The Murders of Richard III by Elizabeth Peters takes Jacqueline to an English manor house. A collection of academic characters gather in determination to prove the innocence of Richard III, maligned by Shakespeare and others as the murderer of the Princes in the Tower. The country house party is all fun and games, at first, complete with costumes and play-acting. A spate of pranks, each more dangerous than the last, distracts the group from their goals and arouses fear that the modern-day scene may turn just as deadly as the transition from the Plantagenet dynasty to the Tudor one.
Thoughts: Like the first book in this series, Elizabeth Peters makes the odd choice for the narrator to be someone other than her sleuth. In this case, Thomas Carter, who has a bit of a crush on Jacqueline, invites her to participate in the weekend activities. Without access to Jacqueline’s thoughts, the reader keeps a step or two away from the mystery so the experience isn’t about solving the puzzle as much as it is going along for the ride.
The cast of characters is what makes the ride so pleasurable. Many will be recognizable if you have ever spent much time in academia. Seeing the characters dress up in costume and play historic roles adds to the fun.
I enjoyed getting a review of the story of the Princes in the Tower — a friend and I shared a fascination for that long unsolved mystery in High School but I hadn’t thought much about it since then. I plan to visit the Tower of London this fall, so it’s good to have that fresh in my mind again.
If I didn’t have so many other good books about England on my list right now, I’d be tempted to follow this book with Richard III by William Shakespeare and Philippa Gregory’s series that begins with The White Queen.
Appeal: If you liked Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series (and not just for the Egyptian setting), you’re likely to also appreciate the pace and wit in the Jacqueline Kirby series. Even more than the Amelia Peabody books, these stand alone, so there’s no reason to read The Seventh Sinner before The Murders of Richard III. The classic English country house murder mystery is parodied in this book making it a fun choice for fans of Agatha Christie and other mystery novels set in England.
Challenges: Besides being my post for British Isles Friday, The Murders of Richard III meets the criteria of having a forename in the title for the What’s in a Name challenge. That gets me 4 out of 5 for that list. I may actually complete this one!
What have you read, watched, or participated in this week that related to the British Isles?
I’ve looked at this book several times and wasn’t sure I’d like it. Your review has made me add it to my TBR list.
Do you really think it an odd choice that the detective herself is not the narrator? Isn’t that, after all, how Sherlock Holmes (or at least the stories I read) was told, through the narrative voice of Watson? If anything, the choice hearkens back to tradition.
Good point! This is a little different, though, that the two books have completely different narrators — none of the characters from the first book reappear in the second, except for Jacqueline.
You may achieve what I thought was impossible–get me interested in the mystery genre!
You’re tempting me with this book featuring Richard III! I loved Josephine Tey’s book Daughter of Time about Richard.
Thanks for your comment on my blog – I didn’t know about your British Isles Friday!
Great idea for a link-up! The Peters book looks good – it may have to be added to the massive TBR. Just off to check out some of the other links now…
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I like the idea of the narrator being someone else, you must learn quite a bit about the main character (if you can still use that term here). Hope you enjoy your trip to the Tower and well done on What’s In A Name!
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