Their country house will soon play host to a nightmare…
Marion Shape and her mother are quiet and ordinary villagers, enjoying a peaceful life in their country home, the Franchise. Everything changes when a local schoolgirl accuses them of kidnap and abuse, describing the attic room of the house as her prison. Scotland Yard inspector Alan Grant is called to solve the mystery of the Franchise, but will he fall right in the middle of nightmarish affair that will change a town, and its locals’ lives, forever?
This is part of a series but the main protagonist of the series Inspector Grant hardly features in this story instead we have a solicitor Robert Blair of Blair, Hayward, and Bennet who takes on this mystery and sets about investigating the devastating accusation made against Mrs Sharpe and her daughter Marion.
Robert receives a telephone call just as he is about to leave the office for the day and return home to the house he shares with his aunt Lin. It is Marion Sharpe who asks him to come immediately to The Franchise, where she lives with her mother, as someone from Scotland Yard along with a local officer are accusing them of kidnapping and beating a girl. Robert somewhat reluctantly, as he is not a criminal lawyer, agrees.
Once Robert arrives he is told what the situation is. The mother and daughter are being investigated by Inspector Grant of ‘The Yard’ accompanying him is a local officer who Robert knows. Marion, who telephoned him, and her mother who later joins them agree to allow the teenage girl to come into their home. Betty Kane comes in accompanied by a female and confirms that the people who kidnapped her are indeed Marion and Mrs Sharpe. She is taken to the attic where she was supposed to have been held and beaten. Here she indicates what she saw and how she was treated. What she says is damming but is she telling the truth? Robert has his doubts and is sure that the Sharpe women have been falsely accused. Is he right?
A well paced, well written story that has wonderful characters and an interesting plot which for those who don’t like the darker, gorier type of crime fiction is ideal. There is no murder, no graphic violence in the book and yet it is as gripping as any storyline.
There are aspects of The Franchise Affair that situate it in a post-war England which still had the death penalty yet it deals with issues still relevant today. For example, the way in which the media, particularly the ‘Ack-Emma’, sensationalised what happened and manipulated the facts raises issues today as it did then around media responsibility and accountability. There is also the way in which communities react to ‘outsiders’ (or ‘incomers’) and take ‘justice’ into their own hands that are as pertinent in 2023 as they were in 1948.
I very much enjoyed reading The Franchise Affair and will read more of Josephine Tey’s work in the future. If you choose to read it I hope you find it just as good. In my copy of The Franchise Affair there is a very interesting forward that I recommend you read after the book as it does ‘give the game away’ and may spoil your enjoyment of the story. If you already have read it what did you think about it?
A Virtual Crime BookClub
The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey was the chosen book for our first read of 2023, taking place on 9 January. We meet online. It is hosted by author Rebecca Bradley. Find out more by going to A Virtual Crime BookClub. Check out the 9th Jan meeting but be aware of spoilers so if you intend to read Tey’s book perhaps watch it afterwards.
Our next meeting is on Monday, 6th February 2023 at 8 pm GMT (UK time zone) when we will be discussing The Accordionist by Fred Vargas.
Published: Cornerstone Digital (8 Jun. 2011) | Penguin (22 Sept. 2022)
Buy: AmazonSmileUK | UKBookshop.org (affiliate link) | your local bookshop | your local library
Penguin Classics (Pre-order – published 13/7/2023) –
Author: Josephine Tey was the pseudonym of Elizabeth MacKintosh who was born in Inverness, Scotland in 1896. She also wrote plays under the name Gordon Daviot. It is under this pseudonym that her first published work appeared in The Westminster Gazette in 1925. Her first mystery novel, The Man in the Queue, was published in 1929, marking the first appearance of Inspector Alan Grant from Scotland Yard. Grant makes a few brief appearances in The Franchise Affair.
Josephine Tey is one of the best known and best loved of all crime writers.Penguin Books
She began to write full-time after the successful publication of her first novel, The Man in the Queue (1929), which introduced Inspector Grant of Scotland Yard. In 1937, she returned to crime writing with A Shilling for Candles, but it wasn’t until after the Second World War that the majority of her crime novels were published. Josephine Tey died in 1952, leaving her entire estate to the National Trust.
Article: Vanity Fair
Website: Josephine Tey: a very private person
Also by Josephine Tey
The Man in the Queue | A Shilling for Candles | Miss Pym Disposes | Brat Farrar | To Love and Be Wise | The Daughter of Time | The Singing Sands
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I really enjoy Josephine Tey, both as a writer and as a protagonist in the Nicola Upson series. She seems to have been an intriguing character, very forward-thinking in some respects, and yet also a product of her time.
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Exactly. Glad you enjoy Josephine Tey too, MarinaSofia. The Nicola Upson series sounds interesting.