You can’t help but want to read this book just because it is one of the Penguin Classic Series and the cover is printed in the lovely dark green ‘crime’ colour! I have an urge to collect all of them, they just look so serious and traditional yet so attractive!

The novel is a really good quality detective story – without any dead bodies, yet all the more admirable for that because it is only a quite simple story but is really gripping. A young girl, Betty Kane, has gone missing for a month and when she is found she states she has been kept prisoner in an old house by two elderly ladies (the Sharpes) who have beaten and starved her and forced her to be their maid. She describes the house, the ladies, and the room she was imprisoned in, in minute detail and the ‘guilty’ are soon identified as the owners of a large house called ‘The Franchise’. The case seems absolute against the elderly ladies, as the girl’s descriptions are so very accurate, but their lawyer Robert Blair believes they are innocent. He then sets out to discover where Betty Kane actually was for a month and why she would accuse these ladies.

Robert Blair, the solicitor, is an interesting character – he is used to a very quiet existence in a country office where nothing much happens so this mystery provides quite a change to his routine, which he embraces wholeheartedly. His complete belief in the Sharpe’s innocence is also interesting; throughout the book the evidence seems so overwhelmingly against them that I was often doubting their story, then on the next page believing them again. The novel is very well-written in that it gives you small pieces of information, but ensures the element of doubt is always present in your mind.

The story is quite gently paced, as you’d expect, but keeps your attention throughout. It is an usual storyline as the case against the ladies seems so conclusive and they are being accused by a seemingly innocent schoolgirl.

The book is also enjoyable for the time it is written in (the 1940s) and the pictures built up of the traditions, the cars, the jobs, and the slowly paced and gentle country life of that time. Somehow, even though a modern day tale would have dramatic and thrilling edge-of-the-seat events and violence, the gentleness and innocence of the time (or as we like to think the time was) makes crimes written in this period all the more fascinating.

It is a great read, very well written, and a definite page-turner.

The Franchise Affair (Paperback)

By (author): Josephine Tey

Title: Franchise Affair <>Binding: Paperback <>Author: Josephine Tey <>Publisher: ARROW
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