Book review

Recently I was in the mood for a detective novel, so I googled ‘best detective novels’ which led me to a list of the Top 100 Crime Novels of All Time.  At the top of the list, compiled by the Crime Writers’ Association, was The Daughter of Time, a 1951 novel by Josephine Tey, a Scottish author best known for her mystery novels.

I’d neither heard of the book nor the author so was intrigued enough to want to read it.  The title (and spirit) of the book takes its name from an old proverb featured at the book’s outset: ‘Truth is the daughter of Time’.  The Daughter of Time (DoT) is the fifth of Tey’s Alan Grant novels.  In DoT we find Grant, a Scotland Yard inspector, laid up in hospital and at a loss with what to do with himself.  Grant ends up conducting a bed-bound investigation into the notorious murders of the Princes in the Tower; that is, was Richard III responsible for ordering the deaths of the two princes?  Or put another way, does time afford us the luxury of being able to tell a different version of the widely held truth about the murder of the princes in the tower?

Through the 160 or so pages of the book (so it’s not an onerous read in terms of pages), the reader is taken on a romp through 15th century England and the politics of the War of the Roses.  The book does require some basic knowledge about the period, so there were occasions on which I had to do a bit of side-by-side reading with Wikipedia.  Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable piece of historical fiction, though I don’t think it belongs at the top of the CWA’s list.  Playing detective myself, I suspect that Tey’s novel must have played a role in laying the path for modern British authors like Hilary Mantel, C.J. Sansom, and Philippa Gregory.

I actually read Daemon (2009) by Daniel Suarez a few months ago but have only just mustered the effort to write about it.  I wanted to read the book having searched for books inspired by the TV series Mr. Robot.  The novel is a so-called techno-thriller and is about a self-learning computer program, unleashed on the world by its deceased genius creator (Sobol) to achieve the goal of creating a new world order.  The book started well enough but, for my money, became increasingly farcical and over the top as it went on.  The characters were wooden and cliched, to boot (there’s a reboot joke here somewhere but I’ll leave it!).  The book has some similarities with the wonderful Ready Player One, one of my favourite books of recent years, in that some of the characters are gamers and, through playing Sobol’s games, are able to access the daemon’s secrets.  But that’s where the comparison ends.

In summary, while the premise of the book is intriguing, the execution fails to live up to expectations. I’ll be giving the follow-up, Freedom™a miss but will try and catch the movie of Daemon, which I understand is in the offing.