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The Franchise Affair (Inspector Alan Grant #3)

3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  4,201 Ratings  ·  359 Reviews
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 Bet ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 18th 1998 by Touchstone (first published 1948)
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Nancy Oakes
Actually, this is my second time with this book after having read it eons ago, and I enjoyed it much more this time around, since I read it now with more of a focus on character and postwar issues.

The Franchise Affair is just a perfect gem of a novel, based on the real-life case of Elizabeth Canning in 1753 which you can read about here. Moving the case into contemporary times, Tey updated this story to reflect various postwar concerns, as Sarah Waters notes, looking at the "moral panics - ab
Burgundy Rose
Apr 12, 2013 Burgundy Rose rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
This is most of my blog review:

I read this thinking throughout "This book would make a fantastic movie. I can't believe it hasn't been adapted – it has everything." But it has been filmed, in Hollywood in 1950 only on VHS at the moment – co-starring Patrick Troughton, which means I really want it. The suspense throughout was amazingly well done – even without a literal life being at risk at any point, the stakes were quite high enough, and my involvement
Jun 07, 2012 Leonie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
I really liked Brat Farrar and Miss Pym Disposes, so it's a shame I absolutely hated the next two books of Tey's I read. In the first place, this book is not a mystery. From the blurb, I expected something more ambiguous, where we wouldn't be sure which party was telling the truth and would hopefully have an interesting journey finding out. But no. Right from the start, it is made very clear that the Sharpes are the salt of the earth, and the girl accusing them, a slutty fifteen-year-old whose e ...more
Bill  Kerwin
Aug 03, 2007 Bill Kerwin rated it really liked it

Josephine Tey is a Tory reactionary and a snob, but she writes like an angel. This mystery novel of the English middle class at bay under the post WW II Labor party is almost as good as her "The Daughter of Time"--and that is high praise indeed.
Mar 30, 2013 Rage rated it liked it
There's no subtlety in this book. Betty Kane is, we're assured, rotten to the core, a completely nasty piece of work. People who are good and decent recognize Betty Kane as a poisonous liar (because of the color and/or spacing of her eyes), people who are stupid and vacuous think she's a harmless little dear. The mystery isn't really what happened to Betty so much as how to prove that she's a liar, which is to be accomplished in court so that the entire world can see that she's a liar and they w ...more
Mar 21, 2016 Damaskcat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Marion Sharpe and her mother live in a house called The Franchise - left to them by a distant relative. They lead a quiet and uneventful life until they are confronted out of the blue by a young girl - Betty Kane - who accuses them of kidnapping her, keeping her locked in an attic room and beating her black and blue. Something about the story doesn't ring quite true to Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard but everything about the girl's description of the house ties up and it seems as though sh ...more
Aug 01, 2012 Chip rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery-thriller
Josephine Tey was recommended to me as an excellent classic mystery author, and various online reviews of her work supported that view. I chose The Franchise Affair as the first of her books to read based on the number of online references thereto and positive reviews thereof. However - it's not good; rather, it is incredibly dated and, worse, terribly lazily written (e.g., "her intelligent eyes") and plotted. Far too many things didn't ring true: the protagonist lawyer's assumption that the Sha ...more
Nov 12, 2009 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“The first dark germ of The Little Stranger, however, came to me from another genre entirely. The book has its origins in my response to a detective novel from 1948: The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey, a novel I first read more than a decade ago, and which has fascinated and troubled me, in about equal measures, ever since.”

Josephine Tey’s novels have been sitting on my shelves for a while now, but it was Sarah Waters who finally make me pick this one up. I’m very glad that she did.

The story
Nov 27, 2015 Gary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Crime fiction lovers
Recommended to Gary by: Folio Society
I first read this book a few years ago but didn’t appreciate how much I enjoyed it until I read it again recently.

This is considered one of Tey’s best novels and I can see why. She writes in a straightforward, clear way, making her prose easy and enjoyable to read. She knows her characters well and she knows human nature, treating us to snippets of back-story as she goes along, so we get to know them in stages, as if they were real people. We get inside their heads (the main ones, anyway) and th
Aug 11, 2009 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
Josephine Tey here explores how to prove a negative. Two English women (genteel enough to be educated and living on an inheritance but not wealthy by the standards of their class) are accused of kidnapping and beating an innocent-looking adolescent girl because they cannot otherwise get a maid for their remote house. In the process Tey gives a sympathetic but not uncritical view of smug English village life. She is occasionally heavyhanded with a couple of her pet peeves--the inane defense of th ...more
Feb 10, 2010 Jenn rated it really liked it
This was a sedate but somehow extremely lovely mystery set in a sleepy English town. Two women stand accused of abducting a young girl, holding her hostage for a month in their crumbling old home (the Franchise), and beating her severely when she refused to become their maid. The women, who swear they've never seen the girl before, reach out to a small town lawyer who's just beginning to realize how bored he is with his rather small and pleasant life. He takes their case on instinct alone. Most ...more
Well I finished The Franchise Affair and I have to sat it's the first time I have been driven to finish a book by shear disgust at the ideas it puts forwards. I began to get a little uncomfortable both author ad charactors quite early into this novel but it was so well written that I decided to stick with it. What carried my on to the end was disbelief that anyone could take this woman seriously.

A friend passed this link on to (spoiler alert)

It is a piece
Alisha Trenalone
Sep 14, 2014 Alisha Trenalone rated it really liked it
Josephine Tey approaches Dorothy Sayers' level of literate mysteries. What I mean to say is, she's not just writing a "whodunnit." She's writing people, and they're pretty interesting.
Although, I have to remark that out of three books of hers I've read, she's at 100% for making wild generalizations about someone's character based on eye color, shape of the face, etc. I thought the pseudo-science of phrenology had been abandoned by this time, but I must be wrong.
Dec 07, 2012 Leslie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite Tey's -- a mystery that doesn't involve murder, but still immensely satisfying when (view spoiler)
Jul 11, 2016 Ree rated it did not like it
This book is in a genre unto itself: nationalist mystery or maybe, conservative mystery, or imperialist mystery. One implies the others I suppose. This might be a common genre (common sense tells me it should be, because it would have sold well in that age), but this is the first book from the Golden Age of Mystery I have read that is so overtly vicious to liberalism and anti-imperialism. Coming from a country that was a British colony and from a century that recognises anti-imperialism for the ...more
Apr 05, 2017 SusanwithaGoodBook rated it it was amazing
Inspector Grant is barely in this, but that doesn't matter. It was really good. It has a bit of romance, a bit of danger, and a lot of mystery about what really happened. I quite enjoyed it.
Sharon Barrow Wilfong
Mar 16, 2017 Sharon Barrow Wilfong rated it it was amazing
Robert Blair is a lawyer who primarily deals with real estate and wills. The story starts with Blair sitting in his office contemplating the predictability and routine of his life. He looks with satisfaction at the smooth current of his days as they peacefully undulate along. If there exists something down somewhere in his subconscious that pleads surely there must be more to life than this, Blair is able to successfully press that thought down to where it is safe from rising to the surface.

Of c
Susan Ferguson
Feb 05, 2014 Susan Ferguson rated it really liked it
Robert Blair has settled into the law firm that was waiting for him. His cousin Nevil, is the younger partner now. Robert is sitting in his office after tea contemplating leaving for the day when his phone rings. It is Marion Sharpe - she would like him to come out to the Franchise because Scotland Yard is there and she wants someone to advise her and her mother. He tries to get her to call Carley, a criminal lawyer, but she refuses. So, intrigued, he goes out there. A 16 year old school girl cl ...more
Nov 11, 2013 Barbara rated it liked it

I really like Josephine Tey and think her 'Daughter of Time' one of the best and most original 'mysteries 'ever written. I ordered it and the Franchise Affair and a couple of others in Kindle recently to have the pleasure of re-reading old favourites.
All I can say is I must have been very young when I read The Franchise Affair, before the age of being politically aware of much, or surely I would have remembered the all-pervading air of class and gender judgement. Threaded througho
Donna Robbins
Jul 06, 2015 Donna Robbins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Tey fans; fans of British crime novels
This is the 3rd of Tey's novels that I've read; I've been working my way through the Inspector Alan Grant books, and picked this one up before I realized it isn't properly in that series (although Grant appears briefly).

I love Tey's writing, which has gotten better and better with each book; it's the kind of prose you can't help but linger over, even when some of the ideas prove to be tough sledding for modern sensibilities. Tey's wit and dialogue are terrific and I particularly love the way she
Jan 09, 2012 Yune rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Written in a deceptively understated manner, this tale starts with Robert Blair, a solicitor in a quiet town; he's used to routine, down to how the contents of his tea tray differ for each day of the week. Of course, his placid life is turned upside-down when he becomes involved in a case where two women who live in a somewhat isolated house -- known as The Franchise -- are accused of kidnapping and beating a girl. Said girl seems to be a sweet, angelic young thing; but Blair represents the two ...more
Sep 02, 2013 Madonna rated it it was amazing
What a delightful read! I really liked Robert Blair, and I'm sorry HE isn't the continuing character. This is identified with the tagline that Inspector Alan Grant returns......, but I don't think he is actively involved enough for this to be one of "his" books. In checking both B&N and amazon, neither lists this as part of the Inspector Grant series.
I was introduced to this book while reading Books to Die For--a great read by itself--and since I enjoyed Daughter of Time by Tey, I got this b
Oct 21, 2009 Salma rated it liked it
I was excited to find this author- we share a birthday. Or an astrological sign, or something. I adore mysteries, and premise and plot-wise, this doesn't disappoint. The Sharpes, mother and daughter, live in a large, gloomy looking-house in the English countryside. Betty Kane is a sweet-faced teenager who comes home after having vanished for a month, with severe bruises on her body. She claims the Sharpes kidnapped her and put those bruises there. Everyone believes her, of course. She's too pret ...more
Oct 12, 2011 JackieB rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, crime, thriller
In this book, a young woman accused a mother and daughter of kidnapping and abusing her. The young person's story was ridiculous, but on the other hand, how could she describe the interior of a house the two accused women claim she had never been in?
This was extremely absorbing. I liked the way Josephine Tey used the social changes and tensions in the story. She didn't just solve the crime, she also gave a convincing description of how the public responded to the crime and its effects on the peo
Mar 21, 2010 Judy rated it liked it
This book is a good reminder that a mystery doesn't need to involve a murder. Solicitor Robert Blair was about to leave his office in a small English town when the phone rang. Marion Sharpe, who lived with her mother in a large, but very run-down country house called The Franchise, wanted him to come immediately because she and her mother were being accused of a crime. A 15 year old girl named Betty Kane arrived with the police and accused the two women of kidnapping her, holding her in their at ...more
Stylistically very well written as all of Tey's books, but I found the plot to be very predictable and the characters not interesting enough to make up for that. It was clear from the beginning (even the cover blurb said so) that the "victim" was lying and the laywer's clients were innocent - the mystery was to find out how the lie was accomplished and I found that I simply didn't care to find out because everything - the sleepy little town where the plot was set, and the characters - was so bla ...more
Apr 28, 2010 Surreysmum rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, 1984
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
A strange book in the Inspector Grant series - he appears as a side character and makes a major error in charging the wrong people for a crime not committed.
There is no real mystery to this story - it is about Robert Blair, a 40 year old lawyer in small town England, living a predictable life with no real complexities or stresses. He represents a woman and her mother who have been accused of kidnapping a 15 year old girl. To clear their names Blair and friends need to find fault with the 15 yo's
Apr 01, 2011 Wealhtheow rated it liked it
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 th
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Josephine Tey was a pseudonym of Elizabeth Mackintosh. Josephine was her mother's first name and Tey the surname of an English Grandmother. As Josephine Tey, she wrote six mystery novels including Scotland Yard's Inspector Alan Grant.

The first of these, 'The Man in the Queue' (1929) was published under the pseudonym of Gordon Daviot , whose name also appears on the title page of another of her 19
More about Josephine Tey...

Other Books in the Series

Inspector Alan Grant (6 books)
  • The Man in the Queue (Inspector Alan Grant, #1)
  • A Shilling for Candles (Inspector Alan Grant, #2)
  • To Love and Be Wise (Inspector Alan Grant, #4)
  • The Daughter of Time (Inspector Alan Grant, #5)
  • The Singing Sands (Inspector Alan Grant, #6)

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“The trouble with you, dear, is that you think an angel of the Lord as a creature with wings, whereas he is probably a scruffy little man with a bowler hat.” 36 likes
“Lack of education," old Mrs. Sharpe said thoughtfully, "is an extraordinary handicap when one is being offensive. They had no resources at all.” 1 likes
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