The Franchise Affair (Inspector Alan Grant Series #3)

The Franchise Affair (Inspector Alan Grant Series #3)


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780684842561
Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: 08/18/1998
Series: Inspector Alan Grant Series , #3
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 143,137
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Josephine Tey is considered one of the greatest mystery writers of all time. She died in 1952.

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The Franchise Affair (Inspector Alan Grant Series #3) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Anonymous 11 months ago
LaurieRKing on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Tey does things with her apparently simple plots that no one, but no one else can manage. A deliciously sly woman.
bcquinnsmom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Although this is listed as the third book in Tey's Alan Grant series, here he plays more of a background role rather than the main character. That honor goes toRobert Blair, a typical small-town English solicitor in the quiet village of Milford. His old and established legal firm, Blair, Hayward and Bennet, handles matters of "wills, conveyancing and investments." But with one desperate telephone call, Blair is thrust into a most bizarre case which takes him to a house called The Franchise.Upon his arrival, he is met by Marion Sharpe and her mother, the owners of the house, along with Inspector Grant of Scotland Yard. Grant is there investigating the story of Betty Kane, a demure young schoolgirl who claims that she had been kidnapped by the Sharpes one day after missing a bus and held prisoner in an attic room, where she was beaten when she refused to perform household duties. According to Kane, Mrs. Sharpe left the door unlocked one night, and Betty was able to make her escape. She was able to describe the inside of the house to a tee, down to the different types of suitcases in a closet, as well as the distinctive features of their car. But the problem is that both Marion and her mother swear that they've never set eyes on the girl, and they're absolutely baffled as to her knowledge of the house. Blair is positive that the women are innocent, and despite some misgivings, agrees to help, despite the insurmountable odds against success. And so it begins.Tey's characters are believable, the plot is engrossing, but what makes this novel work well is how she successfully plunges her readers immediately not only into the crime, but into the mounting tension surrounding the case up until the end. And although The Franchise Affair is set in the countryside, it is a sophisticated story, not just another English country house-based mystery.Although written in 1949, Franchise Affair is still a very good read, with some clearly recognizable elements (such as the power of the tabloids to fuel the fires of those who read them), and a completely different storyline than most of her earlier novels and of the novels of that period. Tey based this novel on a true crime of the 18th century focusing on another young girl, Elizabeth Canning. If you're at all interested, there are two fictional accounts of this 18th-century story that I'm aware of: [Elizabeth is Missing], by Lillian de la Torre and [The Canning Wonder], by Arthur Machen. For aficionados of classic mysteries, The Franchise Affair is definitely recommended. The end is a little sappy, but you won't care because the case is so satisfying.
mrtall on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Franchise Affair is a highly-readable crime novel that¿s not a murder mystery. The set-up is an odd one: a reclusive but respectable middle-aged woman and her elderly mother have been accused of kidnapping a teenaged girl and trying to compel her to become their housemaid. The story is based on a real historical case in 18th-century England. The `mystery¿ here is thus not whodunit, but how did the pert, appealing accuser manage to assemble so many circumstantial facts supporting her bogus story (note that there¿s no question whatever that she¿s making it all up). A gentle and frankly dull country lawyer, Robert Blair, takes up two defendants¿ case and the challenge of trying to crack the girl¿s story.What¿s amazing here is Tey¿s ability to hold your interest even though you know pretty much exactly where things stand right from the outset of the story. She accomplishes this via strong characterization, and supremely good description and detail of the story¿s setting, i.e. an English village in the 1940s. The stresses and strains of that difficult time are woven deeply into the fabric of the story. Some people might find off-putting Tey¿s clear sympathy for the impoverished gentility ¿ and her equally clear antipathy toward the scheming working-class malefactor. I didn¿t. It¿s actually refreshing to read a story in which the `underdog¿ really is given the back-handed dignity of being held accountable for moral choices. So many contemporary crime stories work so very hard to do the opposite.
BookAngel_a on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This has become one of my favorite mysteries of all time.A young girl named Betty Kane accuses a mysterious middle aged woman and her mother of beating and kidnapping her. Everyone believes the sweet young girl, except the local lawyer Robert Blair. Blair is determined to prove the girl a liar, and his quest turns his quiet predictable life upside down.This is an Alan Grant mystery, but he is rarely mentioned. When he is mentioned, he is presented as 'the bad guy' because he is prosecuting the case. There is also no murder. How unusual! This non-formulaic approach is one reason I loved the book. Every character is this book is endearing (well, almost every character). I could see them as I read, and they left me wanting more.I stayed up way past bedtime because I could not put the book down. Riveting stuff.
EBT1002 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This classic British mystery was an easy, enjoyable romp. Robert Blair is a likable "detective" (actually, an attorney) who lives with his aunt (actually, his cousin) and gets persuaded to assist Mrs. and Miss Sharpe (mother and daughter living alone in an isolated and dilapidated old house) as they are accused of abducting and abusing a teenage girl. Tey's writing is entertaining --- and more spare than I tend to think of mid-20th-century British crime novels as being. "The Franchise Affair" may be my favorite of the genre and era. It requires leaving some 21st-century sensibilities at the door, but not nearly so many as some of its generation.
lahochstetler on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book offers an intriguing story, all the more intriguing because it is based on a real case from eighteenth-century Scotland. A teenage servant claims that she has been held against her will in the rural manor house of two elderly women. The home's owners, the mother and daughter Sharpe, cannot believe the charges, but they also have little ability to dispute them. Their lawyer, Robert Blair, seems to be the only person in the small town who believes in their innocence. In this book Tey has produced an excellent mystery. I was certainly riveted to see how the story would resolve. Tey presents the Sharpes' case as if they are innocent, but as the plot progresses it becomes more and more difficult to see how they could possibly not be guilty. The servant, Betty Kane, appears to have absolutely disappeared during the week when she claims to have been held hostage. I couldn't wait to find out what had really happened to Betty, and this is a mystery that keeps the reader guessing until the end. It also highlights the vagaries of small-town life, and the sort of gothic horror that can come from an entire town turning against you.
LisaMaria_C on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The introduction to the newest editions of the Josephine Tey books by Robert Barnard singles out The Franchise Affair, along with Brat Farrar and The Daughter of Time as books that are more mainstream novels than mere mysteries, and I routinely see those three titles cited as the best books Tey ever wrote--and I'd concur (although I'd add Miss Pym Disposes to the list). Barnard also says that like The Daughter of Time that "The Franchise Affair also has a basis in fact (an eighteenth-century case in which a maid charged her employers with abduction and mistreatment), but in her hands it becomes a sort of parable of the middle class at bay." In that same introduction Barnard also accuses Josephine Tey of "contempt for the working class." I'd say on the contrary given characters such as Stanley in this book, Tey has great respect for the working class. But she does hold in contempt woolly-headed bleeding-heart excuses for the non-working and criminal class. There's definitively a conservative sensibility that's more obvious in this book than any of her others, and I can imagine some readers might be rubbed raw by recognizing themselves in those she mocks who make a cause celebre of "the Franchise Affair."The Franchise is a remote and secluded gated house lived in by middle-aged Marion Sharpe and her elderly mother. Their isolation, all the more since they're new to the area, made them the subject of suspicion even before the "affair." Betty Kane, a fifteen year old schoolgirl of good family, accuses them of having abducted her and keeping her captive in their attic for a month, trying to force her to work as a domestic for them. She's able to provide details that prove damningly accurate. The case reminded me quite a bit of the infamous Tawana Brawley case in New York, another case of a teen making accusations that caused a furor. Enter their solicitor, Robert Blair--who believes the Sharpes--but not Cane--and proceeds to investigate. Interestingly Tey's own series sleuth, Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard, does make an appearance in the novel--but, amusingly, not to much effect. (Grant has to be the most fallible fictional detective protagonist I've ever come across.) The fascination of the novel is not just watching Blair untangle Cane's story, but watching a modern-day witch hunt as the story gets spread by the press and fueled by gossip. Tey even serves up a subtle romance in this one--which is actually a rarity for her. And I so much like Tey's style, the humor, insight and wit--always such a pleasure to read.
cbl_tn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In order to save his clients' reputations, country solicitor Robert Blair must prove false a teenage girl's convincing allegation of kidnapping and imprisonment. The drama is perfectly paced, with suspense gradually building toward the climax. Tey leaves just enough doubt to keep readers guessing. Milford reminds me of St. Mary's Mead. In both villages, observant amateurs notice similarities between the suspects and the locals whose vices and peccadilloes are known to them. Tey's witty and insightful comments about human nature and behavior provoke reflection. Some characteristic passages:...for all his surface malice and his over-crowded life, {he} found the will and the time to help those who deserved help. In which he differed markedly from the Bishop of Larborough, who preferred the undeserving.The less he knows about a thing the more strongly he feels about it.The criminal is a person who makes the satisfaction of his own immediate personal wants the mainspring of his actions. You can't cure him of his egotism, but you can make the indulgence of it not worth his while. Or almost not worth his while.Highly recommended for all classic mystery lovers.
nossis on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In The Franchise Affair, the digestive routine of a rural barrister (Robert Blair) is happily upset and the reputations of an elderly woman and her middle aged daughter are put into question when a fifteen year old girl named Betty Kane tells a story abduction and imprisonment. Blair sets out to prove that the story is bunk¿even though the police are disinclined to prosecute¿in order to rescue the ladies, the younger of whom he is quite taken with, from local infamy. The tabloids get hold of story and rile up public opinion against the accused¿who are said to have plucked the innocent teen from the street, beaten her and forced her into service as their maid¿making them and their house, the Franchise, the target of hoodlums and vandals. Betty Kane¿s seemingly intimate knowledge of the interior of the women¿s house is seen as damning, but Blair¿s faith in his clients, along with his newfound sense of heroism, leads him to investigate further than the police will.Tey¿s book was inspired by the true 19th century case of Elizabeth Canning, a London girl who disappeared for a month and then reemerged claiming to have been abducted by thugs working for an elderly madam who tried to force her into prostitution. The stakes were slightly higher in the Canning case, as one of her alleged abductors was sentenced to be hung before a judge reopened the inquiry. A firestorm in the press ensued and Canning was convicted of perjury and exiled to Connecticut. The whereabouts of Canning during her missing month were never discovered nor did she reveal them in her later life. Tey¿s explanation for the gap¿that the girl, a precocious vixen, picked up a married man in a café and spent a dirty four weeks with him in a hotel until his wife showed up and boxed her about the face¿is in line with the American noir sentiment of the time about seemingly innocent young girls¿¿Whoever was going to suffer in any situation she created, it wasn¿t going to be Betty Kate¿¿though in this case the girl¿s actions don¿t lead to anyone being pumped full of lead or eaten by sharks.Tey does introduce a hint of feminism when Blair¿s proposal to one of his clients is rebuffed and he is told that she¿d prefer to live with her mother:¿But Marion,¿ Blair says, ¿It is a lonely life¿¿¿A `full¿ life in my experience is usually full only of other people¿s demands.¿
wyvernfriend on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
While it is an interesting mystery, it mostly concerns the lawyer Robert Blair and his growth as a person and his asking of questions about the rut he's in.The mystery at the centre, and the catalyst for change, is a accusation of beating and kidnapping on the part of two reclusive women, one of whom attracts Robert. But who is right and who is wrong? It's more racist than sexist but it is reflective of the time. I often tell people who wonder what life was like at a certain time to read contemporary fiction, it offers an insight into the psyche of the time that is often interesting and instructive.The world it shows is quite stratified and quite strange to modern eyes and some of the description shows the bias of the author. But it was interesting, not as much for the mystery, but for the characters.
catsalive on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An excellent story, & quite witty too. I enjoyed Ben Carly's & Kevin Macdermott's bon mots. Inspector Grant is a regular in Tey's works but all the other characters are new. How horrible to be unable to disprove the girl's claims, & what a nasty piece of work she is. I do enjoy Josephine Tey's books, & they are so well-written.
MusicMom41 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have now finished reading all the Josephine Tey mysteries (some were rereads¿others new to me) and have confirmed my opinion that of the so-called ¿Golden Age¿ mystery authors she is in a class by herself. And I saved one of the best for last. I had never read this one and for me it ranks near the top of the list. One wonders what she might have produced if she had lived longer. Highly recommended.
charlie68 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I thought the premise was something, perhaps from the result of a dare, and the events relating to the conclusion to the mystery a little trite.
delphimo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Of course an English mystery is the perfect companion on a rainy day and The Franchise Affair is a book easily completed in a day. The story centers on a stodgy, middle-aged lawyer whose life takes a drastic turn when a woman and her mother ask for his assistance. Marion Sharpe and her mother, Mrs. Sharpe, become the witches of The Franchise, a run-down country house, when a teen-age girl accused them of kidnapping and assaulting her. Robert Blair and his family and friends jump into the melee to defend the Sharpes against this vicious accusation. Tey simplistically tells the story with many moments of comic relief. The house remains as the symbol of the Old Guard that is incapable of change. A delightfully fun story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A bit dated, especially in her social stereotypes, but Tey's elegant prose is a pleasure to read. Very much the classic English mystery novel of the circa WWII era dominated by Christie, Marsh, and Tey.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lefty1 More than 1 year ago
A very boring read. I had to struggle to the very end to keep going and not put it down.