Saturday smörgåsbord: Richard III, Petrona Remembered and Spiral 4

This week has seen lots of interesting crime news – a veritable smörgåsbord of delights.

The confirmation that the bones found under a Leicester car park are indeed those of King Richard III, has resulted in some knock-on coverage for Scottish crime writer Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time. This 1951 classic tops the Crime Writers’ Association list of 100 best crime novels, and shows Inspector Grant ‘re-open’ the case of ‘the princes in the Tower’ whilst laid up in hospital with a broken leg. Can he really prove that Richard is not the callous murderer that history paints him to be…?

An interesting article in the Canadian Globe and Mail explores the value of the novel’s critique of history, and its assertion that many historical narratives are falsely constructed for political ends. Nikolai Krementsov, professor of the history of science and technology at the University of Toronto, gives it to his students to illustrate the difference between primary and secondary sources, and says ‘I know no book that gives such as clear account of what history is and what its function is in society … It should be mandatory reading for historians, investigative journalists and policemen’.

He also points out that Tey is writing at the beginning of the Cold War, a time of enormous political transition when lots of inconvenient wartime facts were in the process of being forgotten. ‘In that atmosphere, she wrote a definitive account, not of Richard III, but of how history can be manipulated’.

This week saw the birth of a new crime fiction blog, Petrona Remembered,  which has been set up in memory of the wonderful crime blogger Maxine Clarke.

The team behind the site aims ‘to develop a resource for current and future fans of the genre and we want you to help us. We’re asking writers, bloggers, readers, translators and anyone else who loves a crime or mystery novel to send us a submission about that book. It can be a review, a pitch, a love letter, a poem or, a video. Or something else entirely. Each week we’ll post a new submission and, over time, this site will become a jumping off point to a world of much-loved crime fiction’.

I personally like the idea of a crime haiku :). Submissions great and small are welcome, and you can find out more here.

A new annual award, The Petrona, for the best Scandinavian crime novel, is also being established. Maxine was particularly partial to some top-notch Scandi crime, so this feels very fitting.

Last but not least, for those of you suffering withdrawal symptoms from Borgen, help is on the way in the form of Spiral series 4. Parisian Captain Laure Berthaud and her colleagues are back as of tonight for 12 gritty episodes, taking over the BBC4 Saturday evening ‘international slot’ from 9.00pm until 11.00pm.

Further information and a clip from the first episode can be found here.

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8 thoughts on “Saturday smörgåsbord: Richard III, Petrona Remembered and Spiral 4

  1. Hi Mrs P, I left a comment on your post about The Dead Girls of Juarez, as have just finished the book (jumps up and down excitedly). I noticed the other day Waterstones had the Josephine Tey book out on one of their tables, they don’t miss a trick!

    • Thanks for your Juarez comment, Blighty – have left you a response there. Really glad you liked it!

      Ah, those canny Waterstones folk 🙂 Good move – I bet lots of people will be intrigued enough to buy.

  2. Interesting smorgasbord: Not being an Anglophile (half of family is from Republic of Ireland, and I did my share of listening to the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem over my lifetime), the bone discovery didn’t do much for me. Sorry. But true. However, kudos to Josephine Tey for writing such a classic mystery. I think I saw a facsimile of this on PBS.
    But I am very supportive and enthusiastic about the new crime fiction blog Petrona Remembered in memory of the late, indomitable, terrific book reviewer, Maxine Clark. And I’m quite glad to see that a new award has been established in her name for stellar Scandinavian crime fiction. Her blog sent me to reading many books in that genre and geographical area, always with a critical eye. One thing Maxine insisted on was no mediocrity in crime fiction, and this is true in the Nordics as well as in other crime fiction, translated or not.
    And as for Borgen and Spiral, I’m green with envy about these series, and wish they were available across the pond, as it were. I’ll keep looking and perhaps they’ll turn up soon.

    • Thanks, Kathy. Yes, Maxine had extremely high standards, and set the bar very high with her excellent reviews as well. Just yesterday Margot was discussing something with me and mused that Maxine would probably have been fascinated… I find myself thinking that all the time as well! Could you be tempted to offer a blog post yourself? The idea is to have as many people as possible contributing in a large variety of ways 🙂

      I do hope that Borgen in particular comes your way at some point. It is superb!

  3. […] Inspector Grant ‘re-open’ the case of ‘the princes in the Tower’ whilst laid up in hospital with a broken leg. Can he really prove that Richard is not the callous murderer that history paints him to be…?

    Sounds an awful lot like Colin Dexter’s The Wench Is Dead, in which Inspector Morse solves a century-old case of murder along the Oxford canal whilst in hospital, recovering from an ulcer. I wonder if Dexter got the idea from Tey’s story? Or do great minds just think alike?

    • Well spotted, NomadUK. There’s a modest crime fiction subgenre of detectives investigating cases from their beds (more recently Hakan Nesser’s The Return). I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Colin Dexter had found some inspiration in Tey’s classic…

  4. Josephine Tey’s novel about Richrd III is rightly a classic of the genre. It also shows us that where primary sources have been destroyed an intelligent guess at the truth in the context of the time can be made. I was won over.

    • It’s very persuasive, isn’t it? I admire the way that Tey takes complex issues and events, and weaves them into her narrative in such a way that the reader can follow without feeling alienated. There are a few bits of dialogue that feel slightly staged, but overall it’s done extremely well.

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