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