I received a free digital ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Slogging through the writings of most pro-Ricardians is truly a chore and that aspect was no different in the case of this book.
Side note - Matthew Lewis is the ONLY historian I consider it not a chore to read. His work is balanced and thoughtful. Plus he doesn't sob on television like Philippa Langley when it was discovered Richard really did have scoliosis, and weep and carry on as though she were in love with him. Good lord, she is awful.
In what is destined to remain the greatest unsolved mystery of all time unless QEII finally agrees to DNA testing, we have another author taking a crack at the disappearance of Edward IV's sons, Edward V and Richard, Duke of York.
The author is off-putting from the start and his arrogant tone was enough to make me roll my eyes a good many times. I seriously do not get what makes many Ricardians SO crazy about defending Richard III. The bottom line is this: Richard III knew there were rumors going around London that the boys had been murdered. There's no way he dud not hear them. If the boys were alive, all he had to do was trot them out, remind everyone they were declared illegitimate, then lock them back up again. He couldn't, because they were dead.
And yet, despite all the blow-harding about how terrible the Tudors were (seriously, chill), I find the author's theory terribly intriguing.
The mother of the princes, Elizabeth Woodville, had every reason to fear for their lives. The fifteenth-century England was used to thrones being stolen from their rightful heirs. That she would finally agree to send Richard (York) to Richard (soon-to-be-III) after he had custody of Edward (V) doesn't make sense to me, but perhaps she trusted he would not harm them, especially with the public so keenly aware that the boys were in his custody and should anything happen to them, it would be clear who was guilty. Honestly, I don't know. That is the one aspect I can't work out because at the end of the day...if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, Richard III ordered the boys killed so he could take the throne.
After Richard stole himself a fancy new crown and was declared king in July of 1483, the boys disappeared from view and were never seen again.
The main suspects remain: Richard III, Henry VII, and Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham.
Side note - please STOP with the Margaret Beaufort nonsense. You're being offensively silly at that point.
This book takes the approach of a police procedural and looks at all the historical evidence available to us.
Shakespeare and Thomas More are quoted often, though both had agendas of their own as they were writing and had to be very careful about what they said. Yet even as he does so, the author is extremely critical of both men and their writings.
When the author stuck strictly to the facts, I found it easy to move through the text quickly as he examined each suspect - usual and otherwise. When it boils down to the very basics of a procedural, one must have means, motive, and opportunity. Though the author is heavily biased in favor of Richard, if you are not careful he will have you believing there is no possible way any of the usual three could possibly be guilty.
It is at this point the author arrives at a suspect that I am thoroughly intrigued by, though I am still weighing how possible this would actually be.
With the author's new suspect, there is one glaring problem, however. There's the pesky old fact that there is actually very little known about this man or his life except where he might exist in court records, and hardly anything at all from his own hand. In the end we have no way to further examine this most interesting of suspects aside from look at what happened with Edward and Richard...as well as Arthur Tudor, Henry Tudor's heir. The connection here is tantalizing, but we have no way of ever knowing if there really is a link.
A few things didn't work for me. First and foremost as mentioned before, the author writes in a way I am not sure can be described in any other way than as pure cattiness at times. It is one thing to look at both perspectives, but it is entirely another to write off anything that disagrees with your point of view, only because it disagrees with your point of view.
The second thing, and even more pressing, is the complete lack of notes. I need documentation. I need sources. Especially in an instance like this, when you have a 500 year old murder mystery and there is so little to go on to begin with in some instances.
I would still recommend this one for those who are interested in the period and this murder mystery especially - just be aware that the author is not exactly diplomatic when dealing with anyone or anything that is not pro-Richard.