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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 (48)  Dutch (1)  All languages (49)
Showing 1-5 of 48 (next | show all)
Tey breaks all the rules of cozy mysteries here in one fell swoop. She presumably did it on purpose and the result got me through a night of insomnia with comparative ease. Her series detective Inspector Grant only appears in the background, and fails to solve the case himself. There is no murder, but a completely different crime. What's more, some vital clues are provided out of the blue, quite literally coming as answered prayers, which are offered up by a silly aunt. That's a lot of big rules to break in one short cozy mystery, and Tey does it with aplomb. Wikipedia tells me the story is based on a true one about Elizabeth Canning, which explains a lot. Tey herself was a rather interesting person. She features as a character in a series by Nicola Upson, The Josephine Tey Mysteries (I haven't read them). She was a nonconformist and every bit as strong an author as the more conventional Dame Agatha. Oh and she's a pseudonym - her real name was Elizabeth Mackintosh, an 'obsessively private' Scotswoman.
2 vote ChocolateMuse | Mar 21, 2016 |
Robert Blair is a staid lawyer settling into a comfortable middle age when he gets dragged into an odd kidnapping case.

It's told well--I really like Tey's quiet, understated writing style. And the characters and their interactions are delightfully old-fashioned. But old-fashioned is precisely my problem with this story--it all hinges on slut-shaming, bad-seedism (that concept that some people are just born totally evil, blegh) and classism, which kept rankling as I read. I just don't believe that "the lower classes" are crass and lack tact, and either live to serve or are evil. And without sharing that belief, the story reads less naturally and believably. And, as all too often happens in mystery novels, all is revealed in a sensational confession.

But it's still a good story. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 48 (next | show all)
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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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