The Franchise affair, Josephine Tey

Marion Sharpe and her mother live in the manor called The Franchise, near the little town of Milford. They only moved there and they keep themselves to themselves. The townspeople do not know what to make of these eccentric and non-conformist ladies.

Betty Kane, a schoolgirl, comes home after she went missing. She is black and blue and claims two women in a large house kidnapped her and held her prisoner in their house near Milford. The women wanted to force her to do domestic chores for them and whipped her when she refused. The girl can give several details about the interior of the house.

While a trial is being prepared, the public opinion in Milford already turns against the ladies Sharpe. Shops refuse to service them, their house is being vandalized and eventually it is set on fire.

Robert Blair is a solicitor with a good reputation in Milford, like his father before him. Despite himself he is caught up in the case, but when he gets to know the ladies Sharpe and the case, he is determined to prove Betty Kane is a liar.

The inspiration for this story comes from a famous case from the eighteen-fifties, when a servant girl claimed to have been kidnapped and held prisoner by two women.

The Franchise affair is written in 1948 and it is one of the first detectives where character descriptions and psychology play an important role. That, and how well the story is built, make sure it is still worthwhile to read. It is not dated in the least. It is clear from the beginning the Sharpes are innocent, but how that can be proved is well written. The climax is the courtroom scene, and that is excellent.
In short, a classic detective I can recommend to anyone.

Published in 1948


  1. I love the cover! And it sounds like a great mystery. I have never read any of Josephine Tey's books before, but I think after reading your post I'd like to start with this one. Have your read more of her books?

    1. No, I never read any of her other books, but I hear from other people her other books are also very good, so I think I will look into those.

      Kind regards,

  2. I never read any of her other books, so thank you for the title of the one you have, that is going on my list!

    Kind regards,


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