Disclosure: I purchased the Kindle edition of this book at the then-current retail price. I do not know the authors, nor have I communicated with either of them regarding this book or any other matter. I am an author of contemporary and historical romance along with various (nefarious) non-fiction.
I was introduced to the mystery of Richard III in the early 1980s, through one of my snail-mail pen-pals Cheryl, who was at that time an active member of the U.S. branch of the Richard III Society. Though I knew the outlines of the history, I did not know the debate over the last Plantagenet king of England had endured literally for centuries.
My background was superficial, gained through a slim volume that gave brief biographies of all the kings and queens of England and through a skimmed reading of the fourth volume of Thomas B. Costain's history of the Plantagenets. But had you asked me then to tell you all I knew of Richard III, I could only have told you that he was the last Plantagenet, that he died in battle, and his successor Henry Tudor was Henry VIII's father and Elizabeth I's grandfather.
I actually learned more about the mystery of the Princes in the Tower from reading Jan Westcott's The Hepburn, because one of the subplots involved Perkin Warbeck, the imposter who claimed to be the surviving younger son of Edward IV.
Cheryl knew a lot more. She told me to see if I could find a very rare book by Josephine Tey, titled The Daughter of Time. Some larger libraries might have it, she suggested, and maybe I could get it on interlibrary loan.
I knew Tey, of course, through Brat Farrar, but I'd never heard of this other book. As luck -- or fate -- would have it, within days of receiving her letter with that recommendation, I found a paperback copy of Tey's book in a little used bookstore in our little town in Indiana. I read it immediately, and was just as immediately hooked on the mystery.
I continued to research, to pick up odd little bits here and there.
When word got out in 2010 and 2011 that a serious search for Richard's grave was being undertaken, I began following the news reports. I was still in occasional contact with Cheryl -- I have since lost touch with her, however -- and she provided me with links to updates through the R3 Society. And then came the announcement in 2012 confirming the discovery.
I read the news reports and that was enough for the time being. I'd been warned that Philippa Langley was a bit of a spotlight grabber; her book about the discovery was more about her and less about anything else. But when a few weeks ago the book showed up on my Amazon "home" page at a reasonable price and at a time when I had a little bit of extra Amazon money, I decided to treat myself.
I've now read it, more or less, and the warnings were justified.
The book covers three main issues: The biography of Richard Plantagenet, Duke of Gloucester and King of England; Philippa Langley's dream of finding his burial site; and the actual search in the city of Leicester in 2012.
The biography, broken into sections inserted between the various stages of the search, takes up at least 60 percent of the book. This is great for someone who knows nothing of English history, especially the intricacies of the Wars of the Roses, and the complexities surrounding the legitimacy and/or illegitimacy of various claims to the throne. But the fact that all of this detailed history broke up the actual search was annoying as hell for someone who actually knew the history. Even if I didn't know every single detail, I knew enough that I finally ended up skipping the last few sections with a mental, "Yeah, yeah, I know all that, now get back to the digging!"
Langley played up her intuition and the dramatic feeling she had when standing in a certain spot in the car park. Yes, there was research, and yes, there was scientific evidence, but her emotional reactions seemed overdone. "Yeah, yeah, you got shivers down your spine, now get back to the digging!"
The digging got short shrift, and that really disappointed me.
Another major disappointment was the actual presentation of the Kindle edition, and I'm not sure whether that's because I was reading on the K4PC app or what. The maps and diagrams were very small, too small to read easily.
Many were at 90-degree angles to the page, making them even more difficult to read. The photos reproduced were nice, but they were way too small and had very little narrative to explain them.
The notes at the end were just a listing of sources, not with any reference to the text. Maybe most readers don't care, but I did.
I ended up giving it three stars, because the information was good, but it was too little. If you're really interested, I recommended getting this from the library before you buy.