7 Mar 2012
Review: "The Franchise Affair" by Josephine Tey
Jospehine Tey is one of the perfect author names and when I read "The Franchise Affair", I kept thinking "What a lucky lady to be born with such a beautiful name!" Then I googled her and realised that she actually wasn't - her real name was Elizabeth Macintosh but she published her crime fiction under the name Josephine Tey and used the name Gordon Daviot for publishing historical novels. I had never come across her novels before until I saw mentioned on a blog as a master of classic crime fiction. For some reason coming across "a master" that I have never heard of always provokes me a bit so I ended up buying "The Franchise Affair" to explore her writing.
"The Franchise Affair" starts in the provincially distinguished offices of a lawyer in a smaller, English provincial town. Robert Blair, partner and solicitor, is finishing up for the day and is halfway out the door - going home to dinner served by his lovely, motherly Aunt Lin - when the phone rings. Two ladies, a elderly mother and her unmarried daugther, have been accused of a horrible crime. A young, fresh-faced girl is accusing them of having abducted her, beaten her and tried to force her to be their servant. The women deny everything and beg Mr. Blair to represent them in the horrible case. Mr. Blair reluctantly agrees and thereby shatters the quiet rhythm of his daily life.
Everything points to the guilt of the two women living in the big, shabby house "The Franchise" but as Robert becomes more and more involved with them and with the case, he also becomes more and more desperate to prove their innocence.
I liked "The Franchise Affair", I didn't love it and I might not read it again but I did enjoy it. Not because of the crime story which was quite predictable really and not that exciting. Robert Blair, however, is absolutely adorable in his own, bachelor-ish, parochial way and the two women at The Franchise are a breath of fresh air. Actually I would have loved to have read another story but with the same characters because they were the story for me.
The Britain in "The Franchise Affair" is the stern, make-do-and-mend post-war Britain full of gossiping old ladies and - oh horror - unmarried independent women and men being looked after by their aunts. It is charming really so read it for the setting and the characters but note for the excitement.
Read it if: You love E.F. Benson's Lucia or Dorothy L. Sayer's Lord Peter Wimsey or adore Agatha Christie novels.