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The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey
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The Franchise Affair (original 1948; edition 1998)

by Josephine Tey

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,365475,622 (3.88)221
Member:klpm
Title:The Franchise Affair
Authors:Josephine Tey
Info:Touchstone (1998), Edition: 1st Scribner Paperback Fiction Ed, Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:fiction mystery, detective

Work details

The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey (1948)

  1. 20
    Elizabeth is Missing, or, Truth Triumphant: An Eighteenth Century Mystery by Lillian De La Torre (bmlg)
    bmlg: one is a modern (20th c.) revisioning and the other a historical examination of the Canning Wonder
  2. 00
    We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (lahochstetler)
    lahochstetler: Mystery/horror stories with a Gothic twist, about the particular horror that can come from an entire small town turning against you.
  3. 01
    The Privateer by Josephine Tey (wildbill)
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Showing 1-5 of 46 (next | show all)
The Franchise Affair by Jospehine Tey - Good

Written in 1949, this is another period piece and, like Agatha Christie, suffers from a few 'ouch moments' where language and non-pc attitudes are concerned, but don't let that put you off.

This is billed as an Inspector Grant story, but he hardly comes into it, certainly he has a lot of mentions, but very few appearances. It is, instead, more about Robert Blair of Blair, Hayward and Bennet, a solicitor in a small town... and in a rut. Out of the blue he is called to help and then defend two ladies accused of kidnapping a girl, holding her hostage and beating her. This is where Inspector Grant comes in as he is the Investigating Officer. He's pretty confident of his case, so it is down to Robert to investigate the girls claims, try to find the truth and defend the ladies.

A nice little book, you just need to gloss over the non-pc stuff (attitudes to women, class, education and assumptions made on appearance) and regard it as a window on the times. ( )
  Cassandra2020 | Jan 24, 2016 |
Discussed on the A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast, Episode 5.

http://agoodstoryishardtofind.blogspot.com/2011/03/good-story-005-franchise-affa... ( )
  ScottDDanielson | Oct 15, 2015 |
This novel, while featuring Inspector Grant, relies on Solicitor Robert Blair to solve the case in court. A couple of women residing in the country have been accused by a teenage girl of locking her up in a room and beating her. The girl, who has a photographic memory, tells a believable circumstantial tale. In order to disprove the girl's story, they must find where the girl had actually been during the period in question and find a few holes in the story. Blair himself is not a criminal attorney and can only take the case so far. It will take a miracle to achieve Blair's goal of not only causing sufficient doubt but of discrediting the young girl. It took me awhile to get into the narrative. At times the narrative plods along, and at other times it moves more quickly. Readers are never told why the young girl picked this pair of women to victimize. I did, however, appreciate the fact that when Blair's aunt prayed, a breakthrough in the case occurred on multiple occasions. Overall, it's an enjoyable story, but I missed seeing Inspector Grant in action. ( )
  thornton37814 | Jul 10, 2015 |
Spoilerville!

Considered to be the heir to Christie’s mystery throne, Tey is a decent enough writer in terms of creating character, location and setting social norms. She made me feel for the Sharpe women and loathe Betty, but she failed in the payoff department. After all that hostility directed towards the Sharpes, we get no vindication on their part either from the villagers with pitchforks or Betty. There’s no comeuppance for anyone. No one is punished. No one feels shame. No one apologizes. It’s such a let down.

Another let down was the lack of motivation on Betty’s part. As a reader I’m left to fill in all those little psychological blanks myself. Betty was unhappy. Betty was no longer the object of intense attention. Betty was oversexed. Betty was a little vixen, a manipulator and a liar. But what made her that way? Why did she pick on these women? What put this outlandish idea into her head? I mean, I get that she was in an awkward position after being confronted by her man’s wife, but to attack two total strangers is just plain psychotic. I wish there had been more insight into that aspect of the crime rather than the angry villagers thing. Nice that there’s a flicker of hope for the romance in the end though. ( )
1 vote Bookmarque | Feb 19, 2015 |
Nominally an Inspector Grant book (number 3 in the 6 book series) this is less about Grant - who barely makes an appearance - and more about Robert Blair, a wills and probate solicitor in a small town. At the beginning of the book, he is becoming aware that he is in a rut and whilst tradition is nice and steady, there is perhaps, something more missing, but he doesnt know what. He is almost out the door when his phone goes. Marion Sharpe is in need of help. She, along with her mother, has been accused of kidnapping and holding a young girl hostage in their decrepit and lonely house. The girl's testimony is both specific and vague enough to be almost impossible to disprove, and a lack of proof that they didnt do it is likewise almost impossible to prove.

Blair agrees to provde legal support as best he can, despite not being a criminal lawyer, and as he gets involved with Marion and the case, finds he wants to continue giving both legal and emotional support. He does everything to help the women out, instigating investigations and doing the checks that the police seem unwilling or constrained not to take forward. Initially the police are not willing to press charges on the basis there is nothing more than one person's word against another. However, the national press get involved and soon whip the reading public's emotions into a frenzy, making the police reinvestigate the issue, and the women’s case makes its’ way into the assizes.

Considering how old this book is (first published in 1948) it’s both interesting and sad how little things have changed – especially around the press, and the general reading public, who takes things on the face of it. As expected the case appears for one day on the front page, they present a judgement on the Sharpes verses the innocent-looking 15 year old Betty, and the letters page (today’s Comment section) is inundated until late the following week with hysteria – which leads to some windows being smashed at The Franchise. However, it has almost died down when another gutter publication (previous heroes including a left wing killer being persecuted by his government who – shock – want to lock him up for being a “patriot” for killing people). Sadly things have not changed much as of today, only the vehicle.

The dénouement comes late in the story and is much of luck as anything. It leads to a showdown in court with the testimony of Betty being pulled apart and the façade of her innocence being shown to be false to all who were willing it to be true.
  nordie | Dec 16, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Josephine Teyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Barnard, RobertIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Boyd, CaroleNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hogarth, PaulIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It was four o'clock of a spring evening; and Robert Blair was thinking of going home.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This is the Heinemann Guided Readers intermediate adaptation by Margaret Tarner of The Franchise Affair, not the original book.
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Book description
Robert Blair was about to knock off from a slow day at his law firm when the phone rang. It was Marion Sharpe on the line, a local woman of quiet disposition who lived with her mother at their decrepit country house, The Franchise. It appeared that she was in some serious trouble: Miss Sharpe and her mother were accused of brutally kidnapping a demure young woman named Betty Kane. Miss Kane's claims seemed highly unlikely, even to Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard, until she described her prison — the attic room with its cracked window, the kitchen, and the old trunks — which sounded remarkably like The Franchise. Yet Marion Sharpe claimed the Kane girl had never been there, let alone been held captive for an entire month! Not believing Betty Kane's story, Solicitor Blair takes up the case and, in a dazzling feat of amateur detective work, solves the unbelievable mystery that stumped even Inspector Grant.

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Very snug indeed was Robert Blair’s life as a bachelor solicitor in Milford, England. He wouldn’t have been a man, though, if he hadn’t noticed the two women who lived in the atrocious Regency mansion known as “The Franchise.” He thought the older woman very, very forbidding, and the younger — well, not quite so forbidding.

Now, it seemed, both mother and daughter were in trouble — accused of imprisoning a young girl for a whole month, beating and half starving her. The victim was Betty Kane, a girl in a modest school-girl dress, with candid slate-blue eyes, and an appealing look of innocence. Betty remembered what had happened perfectly, and told a heart-rending tale of terror and escape.

But if Betty had not been at The Franchise, where had she been for a whole month, and what was she doing? With every sentimentalist mourning over “poor Betty Kane,” and a blatant tabloid fanning the flames, the women were in danger from more hands than those of the law.

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The Franchise Affair resembles some of the best work of Poe in its introduction of an apparently inhuman evil in an otherwise sedate country setting. Robert Blair, a lawyer who prides himself on his ability to avoid work of any significance, is interrupted one evening by a phone call from Marion Sharpe. Ms. Sharpe and her mother live in a run-down estate known as the Franchise, and their lives drew little attention until Betty Kane charged them with an unthinkable crime. Ms. Kane, having disappeared for a month, now says that she was held captive in the attic of the Franchise during her entire absence. While her story seems absurd, her recollection of minute details about the interior of the house sway even Scotland Yard.

Blair — who Ms. Sharpe has chosen for her defense because, as she says, he is "someone of my own sort"— must dust off his neurons and undertake some serious sleuthing if his client is to beat these serious charges. As with all fine mysteries, one has the sense of being in a sea of clues with a solution just out of reach. The Franchise Affair is a classic mystery, and also a superb record of country life in early twentieth century England.

Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0684842564, Paperback)

Though Josephine Tey is not, perhaps, as well known as Agatha Christie, her contribution to the Golden Age of mysteries is unquestioned. In contrast to Christie, Tey rejected formulas and long-running series in favor of experimentation with new settings and odd conjunctions of character and subject matter. Her historical tale The Daughter of Time is frequently cited as one of the greatest mysteries of all time.

The Franchise Affair resembles some of the best work of Poe in its introduction of an apparently inhuman evil in an otherwise sedate country setting. Robert Blair, a lawyer who prides himself on his ability to avoid work of any significance, is interrupted one evening by a phone call from Marion Sharpe. Ms. Sharpe and her mother live in a run-down estate known as the Franchise, and their lives drew little attention until Betty Kane charged them with an unthinkable crime. Ms. Kane, having disappeared for a month, now says that she was held captive in the attic of the Franchise during her entire absence. While her story seems absurd, her recollection of minute details about the interior of the house sway even Scotland Yard. Blair--who Ms. Sharpe has chosen for her defense because, as she says, he is "someone of my own sort"--must dust off his neurons and undertake some serious sleuthing if his client is to beat these serious charges. As with all fine mysteries, one has the sense of being in a sea of clues with a solution just out of reach. The Franchise Affair is a classic mystery, and also a superb record of country life in early twentieth century England. --Patrick O'Kelley

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:33 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Marion Sharpe and her mother seem an unlikely duo to be found on the wrong side of the law. But Betty Kane accuses them of kidnap and abuse in their country home, The Franchise. It takes Robert Blair, solicitor turned amateur detective, to solve the mystery that lies at the heart of The Franchise Affair.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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