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The Murders of Richard III

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Murders of Richard III (1974) Elizabeth Peters

The second Jacqueline Kirby book finds her in England. Her friend Thomas is a Ricardian–part of a group that wants to rehabilitate the image of Richard III.

It’s been dated to about 1580. Like most of the other portraits of Richard, it was probably copied from a lost original. The only one that might be a contemporary portrait is in the Royal Collection. When it was X-rayed recently, the experts found that parts of it had been painted over. Originally the right shoulder was lower, even with the left, and the eyes were not so narrow and slitlike.”

“I mean his real character, not the one the Tudor historians invented. Everything that is known about Richard’s actions supports the picture of a man of rare integrity, kindness, and courage. At the age of eighteen he commanded armies, and led them well. He administered the northern provinces for his brother the king, and won lasting loyalty for the house of York by his scrupulous fairness and concern for the rights of the ordinary citizen against rapacious nobles. He supported the arts. He was deeply religious.”

Thomas takes her to a proper English house party, where his group hopes to reveal a letter proving that Richard III did not kill his nephews, but while there, as series of morbid jokes, possibly reenacting the murders of which Richard III was accused, worries Jacqueline.

First, I really like Jacqueline as a character. She’s middle aged, and she’s got a fabulous attitude.

“No wonder I love England,” she remarked some time later, after devouring most of a plate of cream-filled buns. “People eat so often here. Morning tea, breakfast, elevenses, lunch, afternoon tea —”

“I don’t think I can afford you,” said Thomas.

“I know you can’t.” Jacqueline gave him a look that left him momentarily speechless.

“Where did you acquire your stock of expletives? I haven’t heard anyone say ‘cripes’ since I was eight years old.”

“I’m trying to reform my vocabulary. The students have a bad effect on me. The words sound foul enough coming from them, but from a lady of my years and dignity…”

Remember, this is set in the early 1970s.

But it’s really fun and amusing.

To walk in the rain with the lady you love is romantic when you are eighteen. When you are fifty it is merely conducive to sniffles and rheumatism.

The mystery is particularly interesting, since a book titled The Murders of Richard III doesn’t actually have murders. And aside from the lack of modern technology, this book has aged well. Probably the setting in an old English castle where everyone dresses as characters from Richard’s time helps, but there is still something about the writing that has allowed the book to age well.

Now I just have to wait for the next book in the series to go on sale.
Rating: 8.5/10

Publisher: William Morrow

Categories: 8/10, Mystery     Comments (0)    



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