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Josephine Tey's The Franchise Affair 1st Edition

1st Edition cover of The Franchise Affair

This is about as perfect an English mystery story that you can imagine. Elegantly written, intriguingly plotted and an immensely satisfying denouement. Robert Blair is a quiet, professional, country solicitor in a quiet, sleepy, English country town until a phone call from a lady in trouble turns his live upside down. The beauty is that it doesn’t turn him upside down. He remains Robert the dependable solicitor throughout, just caught up with a serious crime and new passion which makes him take stock of his way of life. Each character is fully drawn, utterly believable and for the most part warm and engaging, with the exception of the criminals of course, who you don’t want to like anyway.

Tey’s skill shines through in her reflection of English society, in her passion for the study of faces and ultimately in her force of will which means that the mystery, rather than sub-plots or socially commentary, remains paramount at all times. Yet she doesn’t need multiple murders or gratuitous violence or complicated plot swings to keep the reader’s interest or to keep the plot moving. Scraps of evidence emerge not by chance but as the result of hard detective work and acute observation. An easy and engaging read, this is the perfect way to spend an enjoyable lazy afternoon.

Read and reviewed in 2007

© Jessica Mulley 2007, 2014