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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
1,215None6,549 (3.91)179
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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English (40)  Dutch (1)  All languages (41)
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
Quite entertaining, provides a fascinating picture if England in the late 1940s, and an intriguing plot. ( )
  annejacinta | Jan 21, 2014 |
Tremendously good read and I never expected that from the summary - the tale of two women being framed for a brutal kidnapping seemed incredibly far-fetched to me but I'd loved Miss Pym Disposes by the same author so I thought I might as well see if the rest of her work was as good.
Well, it is, and then some. Her writing is astonishing. The book isn't thick but the amount of detail she manages to put in is quite stupendous. After reading a particularly well-written passage, I often caught myself thinking 'I feel completely different about this character than I did two pages ago, how did she do this?' A great deal of her genius has to do with knowing her characters inside out - not two characters in this are the same and they all have a very distinctive voice. We might follow Robert but I know as much about the Sharpes and Aunt Lin. This is also a masterpiece of a mystery novel - until very late in the book, the author makes sure we just don't know whether or not the Sharpes are guilty and since we spend so much time with them and they're so endearing, it's quite a feast. The investigation is realistic and suspenseful and Tey's sense of timing is impeccable - she does know when to drop us a bone and when to leave us in the dark, it's incredible. The end trial could have been a case of deus ex machina if it weren't so well crafted and it becomes not only plausible but the only solution to the plot. The end is interesting and totally unexpected like the rest of the book - the romance hinted at throughout the novel finds a very unusual open-ended conclusion and I loved that. I can't tell you how vivid and deeply witty Tey's writing is - I will not only miss Marion, Mrs Sharpe and Robert but I'll really miss The Franchise, too. You're left with a very good impression of what everything and everyone is and closing the book is like parting with friends. Amazing author - I'll never doubt her again. ( )
1 vote RubyScarlett | Nov 11, 2013 |
One of my favorite Tey's -- a mystery that doesn't involve murder, but still immensely satisfying when Marion Sharpe and her mother are cleared of all charges. Especially since it also involves exposing Betty for the liar that she is!! ( )
  leslie.98 | Jun 26, 2013 |
Detective novel, ( )
  Becchanalia | May 21, 2013 |
The Franchise Affair
Josephine Tey
Monday, March 18, 2013 9:08 PM
A Folio edition, a tale of a lying teenager defaming two woman who live alone in a large inherited house. The description of Milford, England, and the life of the post-war era is exact and comical. The mystery is satisfyingly tidied up at the end. ( )
  neurodrew | Mar 18, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (9 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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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:48:33 -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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