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The Franchise Affair

(Inspector Alan Grant #3)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  6,156 ratings  ·  593 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 Scribner (first published 1948)
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Average rating 3.99  · 
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 ·  6,156 ratings  ·  593 reviews

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Oct 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: xx2017-completed
Named the 11th greatest mystery novel of all time in 1990 by the Crime Writer’s Association, The Franchise Affair was written in 1948. This is the only Inspector Grant novel where there is no murder, and the first one where Inspector Grant plays a minor role. For any mystery fan, this one is a treasure.

Robert Blair is a lawyer in a small English town and used to dealing with wills, land transfers, and other small town legal concerns. In his early 40’s, he is a bachelor and lives with his Aunt Li
Bill Kerwin
Aug 03, 2007 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.
Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂
I've been wanting to read this Tey title for a very long time &, other than the reader sees very little of Inspector Grant, it did not disappoint.

This tale of the disappearance of a young girl & her bizarre accusations against a mother & daughter was very hard to put down and I wolfed through it in around 24 hours.

As it is a Golden Age you have to put up with an author's foibles, & Ms Tey has the firm belief that you can tell a criminal by certain characteristics - in this book eye colour(!) N
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
Emma Rose Ribbons
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
Jun 07, 2012 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
Mar 30, 2013 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
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
Jul 11, 2016 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
Jan 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well written, engaging tale of small-town England where the citizens are small-minded people unafraid of the consequences if they vent their own failures in life by vilifying others.
Considering the author published this in 1949 and died a few years later, I feel that she had a pretty good handle on what life would be like in the not too distant future. Today it is the immediacy of internet smears against members of the population; in this book it was fast moving, malicious gossip and then com
I read this book to fill the Country House Mystery square of my 2018 Halloween Bingo card.

This was my first Josephine Tey, but it will certainly not be my last. I thoroughly enjoyed this twisty little mystery. Although it is nominally part of the Alan Grant series, Grant appears in the novel as a secondary character. His thunder is stolen by a bachelor lawyer, Robert Blair.

I thought Tey did a masterful job of describing Blair—a man of a certain age who has never married, never left his small tow
Anna Luce
★★★★✰ 4 stars

This was an interesting novel. The tension between the various parties (the accused and the accuser/victim) creates a sense of suspense and the mystery itself is less about 'who is right and who is lying' and more about what the court will decide.
The Franchise Affair gives its readers a picturesque look into the dynamics of a small town. The gossiping, the divide, and the resentment that can occur between classes, the type of 'herd mentality' that can turn a whole village or town ag
Aug 01, 2012 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
Jan 31, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An undemanding read and a clever mystery novel. It portrays Britain in the 1940s and its idiosyncrasies very well. The dilemmas of the more impoverished middle classes who could not now afford servants are documented without judgement.
The story concerns a mother and her middle aged daughter who are accused of kidnapping and beating a 16 year old girl with a view to forcing her to work as a maid. They are defended by a country solicitor who takes up their cause. They are pilloried by the tabloid
Aug 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey is listed as the 3rd book in her Inspector Grant mystery series, but in fact, he plays only a very minor inconsequential role in this story. Josephine Tey wrote six books in this series over the course of her life. I've now read four of them. I think, though, that my favorite book of hers so far was her standalone mystery, Brat Farrar, which was an excellent story.

As I mentioned Inspector Grant makes only a couple of brief appearances in this story and is me
Christine PNW
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: vintage-women
This is my edition:

This was really excellent. The mystery is riveting, and Tey maintains the tension throughout, while allowing things to unfold in a leisurely fashion. If I have one minor complaint, it's that it does move a little bit slowly. But that is just a tiny thing.

What a loss it was that she died so young. I've now read 3 of the 8 books that the author wrote as Josephine Tey (she also wrote as Gordon Daviot), and 2 of her Inspector Grant mysteries. I will keep buying her books as I
Sep 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When the author Louise Penny recommends a book as one of her top five mystery-reads it is good to explore her choice. THE FRANCHISE AFFAIR, penned in 1948, is a mystery...refreshingly so, not a murder mystery. Beautifully written with much descriptive, very very British, far more depth than a "cozy". A dusty relic on the library shelf!
Feb 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Tey does things with her apparently simple plots that no one, but no one else can manage. A deliciously sly woman.
One of the most blatantly classist novels I have ever read; it's rife with slutshaming, particularly of an underage (working-class) girl. There's also frequent use of the g-slur to describe and exotify the white, upper-class woman that protagonist Robert becomes obsessed with. I never would have picked it up if it weren’t for school; the text I’m studying, The Little Stranger draws heavily on this, and on that account, it's interesting.

Its portrayal of conservative middle-class concerns in a po
I'm strolling through Josephine Tey's mysteries in and between other books, having read them all many years ago.

This one is an interesting reworking of a real case that happened in the 18th century, and is enjoyable. There are a few jarring notes where individuals say they would like to beat up the girl who claims to have been abducted, beaten and held hostage, because the speaker believes she is lying. There is a tone of "no better than she ought to be" and a looking down on someone seen as com
Rita Walton
May 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
Wow. If you want a book that endorses aristocracy, the police, horse racing and religion with most every character and plot twist, then this is the book for you! Democracy is bad, criminals are born evil and can't be changed, "those of poor breeding" turn out bad, even if they are adopted and raised by good middle class families. Yowza! The book starts out questioning the implausible allegations of a 16-year-old girl and continually attacks the girl and her character until the triumphant revelat ...more
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
Ahhhh, that's better. After a few disappointing reading choices of late, this well-written mystery without a murder was just my drop. It kept me engaged and interested to the very last. Trouble is, it doesn't fit my usual "mystery" shelves: we know whodunit (what little was actually done), it's neither noir fiction nor a police procedural, as the police basically don't see there's a case. It's about salvaging your reputation when you really are innocent, all indications to the contrary.

Trial by
Tom Mathews
I just finished it and really enjoyed it. I am sick to death of mysteries/thrillers where the body count serves as a gauge of the villain's evil, so it is refreshing to read a book that doesn't even have a murder in it but still has a hearty helping of evil. This book shows early on that evil definitely plays a hand but Tey leaves it up to the reader to figure out who the evil party/parties will turn out to be. The Franchise Affair is a story based on the premise that there are two sides to ever ...more
Emilia Barnes
Nov 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
What a fascinating book to read in this day and age! Just as we are having a discussion about believing survivors or rape and abuse, I read a novel in which the reader is invited to cordially hate and despise the accuser in a case of abuse. Of course, it was written in the 1940s, and thus must be treated as a product of its time. And it doesn't add much to the discussion of how a situation, in which it's the word of the accuser against the word of the accused should be treated. In this book we'r ...more
Robin Stevens
May 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Deliciously, gently creepy, and very weird, Josephine Tey's mysteries are absolute classics that comfort me every time I read them. 12+

*Please note: this review is meant as a recommendation only. Please do not use it in any marketing material, online or in print, without asking permission from me first. Thank you!*
Nov 12, 2009 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 11, 2013 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
Nov 27, 2015 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
May 02, 2014 rated it liked it
There is somewhat of a spoiler here. Just to warn!

This is not a 4, but more than a 3. To be fair, a 3.5. I really wanted to give it a four, but just couldn't. Two reasons. First was the characterization of Betty Kane herself. It was just too much a stereotype exercise for that era's generic loose female teen-age tramp bad girl. Not that it could not happen, but the motivations and actions and "looks" combined to pull that entire story off? In an era when there was such widespread newspaper, tele
Mar 21, 2016 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
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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

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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