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The Franchise Affair

(Inspector Alan Grant #3)

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  6,862 ratings  ·  724 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 3.98  · 
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 ·  6,862 ratings  ·  724 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
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
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
Roman Clodia
** Spoilers below **

Aargh, I remember loving this book when I first read it as a teenager but on a re-read it's seriously and unredeemably tainted by Tey's ultra-Tory reactionary propaganda. Published in 1948, it's an almost hysterical hit back at everything that was making life oh so difficult for the upper middle classes in post-war England: no-one wants to be a servant any more, poor Miss Sharpe has to actually cook meals for herself and her mother, clear the table and wash up the dishes, suc
Nov 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery

It's a bit of a stretch to call this one an Inspector Grant book, he barely gets a mention. I did enjoy it though, despite some of its problems.
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
Dana Stabenow
Jan 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-club
I picked this for my book club this month, who don't read a lot of crime fiction, and they loved it. "It isn't like a mystery at all," one of them said in surprise. One loved the understated humor found on every page. Another, a retired corrections officer, says everything the character Kevin McDermott says about criminals is as true today as it was when Tey wrote the book. Another, a psychologist, agrees with me in that while Robert achieves his goal of "undressing Betty Kane in court" that she ...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
Elizabeth (Alaska)
Robert Blair was about to leave the office for the day (early, only 4pm!) when he answered the telephone. As he reflected later, had that call been even a minute later, everything would have been different. On the phone was Marion Sharpe of The Franchise who pleaded with him to come help, she was desperate. Inspector Grant of Scotland Yard and local Inspector Hallam were there voicing the most extraordinary criminal charges. Blair, just a wills and trusts attorney, suggested the other attorney i ...more
Dec 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Delivers what it promises, an engaging mystery. Enjoyed the setting and the characters. A genteel mother and daughter are accused of a horrific crime. It's up to a rather bored Solicitor to prove their innocence. Even though it is billed as an Inspector Alan Grant mystery he does take a back seat in the sleuthing department here.

Not your usual run of the mill mystery.
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
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
Susan in NC
Nov 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first read of this Josephine Tey classic and I really enjoyed it.

There are some plot problems that dated the book, which we discussed in the Reading the Detectives group, such as an obsession with not only slut-shaming, but characters saying they’d like to actually torture a character in the book. We all thought this was pretty over the top, along with the classism displayed by the author through her characters. Josephine Tey, however, was a golden age detective writer, and sexism a
“The one ambition of my life is to discredit Betty Kane.”

The Franchise Affair is a classic mystery about a woman and her elderly mother, who live at The Franchise, a rural house, being accused of kidnapping and beating a teenaged girl, Betty Kane, who claimed the pair held her in an attic room to force her to work as their maid.

Told in the present by Robert Blair, a local solicitor, who received a frantic call from Marion Sharpe, the woman being accused, saying to come quickly as the police an
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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
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
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
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.
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
Emilia Barnes
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
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! ...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
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
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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 featuring 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

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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