Alan Grant, a Scotland Yard inspector, is laid up in the hospital and bored. A friend suggests he work on a historical mystery to keep him occupied. Grant chooses Richard III, whose portrait intrigues him. With the help of a young historian to do the legwork and a lot of books, Grant researches whether Richard III actually killed his two young nephews, the Princes in the Tower--and if he didn't kill them, who did?
The writing is old-fashioned but lively, the characters pleasant to spend time with. This book was first published in 1951 according to my 1988 edition. I actually like this kind of cerebral mystery, a subtype of cozy mystery that's pretty much nonexistent these days.
But I didn't like this book. I don't know a whole lot of British history, but I do know that Richard III has long been exonerated of his nephews' murders. Moreover, I got the strong feeling that Tey had several axes to grind and was more interested in setting the record straight about certain historical events than in writing a mystery.
So the book fails as a mystery, and since it isn't a scholarly work it also fails as a history. I don't know what details Tey invented for the purpose of her story and what details are real. I never could get invested in the plot, and the more Tey insisted on telling me I should think this way about these events, the more annoyed I became with her.
What I really want to read is The Man in the Queue, Tey's first novel, but I haven't been able to chase down a copy yet. This was a poor substitute.