Robert Blair is a village solicitor, some who deals with conveyance, wills and all manner things not very criminal.
One afternoon, when planning to go home he answers the phone to Miss Marion Sharpe who asks for his help. Why? She and her mother have been accused of kidnapped and incarcerating a fifteen year old girl for a month in the attic of The Franchise.
What begins is one of literatures best classic crime novel, The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey. Did Marion Sharpe and her mother commit the crime? Throughout the book I kept changing my mind, there was the doubt the evidence was too damming but there was the doubt as well. It even looked like they would not be charged but not be acquitted either and forever have it hanging over their heads forever.
We see the evidence, we see the counter evidence and we then see the conclusion. But is it the one that everyone was excepting?
This is a really well written book, which twists and turns with each page and only took me three nights to finish! The characters are light and funny, but at the same time quite serious. Aunt Lin, Robert’s Aunt and Mrs Sharpe were well written and made me chuckle more than once, in that direct manner that younger people do not get away with. The girl who was kidnapped and beaten has no availing qualities by the description that Tey gives us, but I think this is a clever tool to make us as readers start doubting her. Robert Blair carefully unpicks all the information that he collects with help from friends, family and locals and then puts everything back into order. Restoring order and justice.
This is the first Tey I have read, having been introduced to her work through the Nicola Upson books which use Tey as a character in a book. I look forward to reading some of her other work.
I loved this book for many different reasons. The cover – you just cannot beat Penguin covers. Simple but effective. The mystery – I really have got into classic crime, ‘golden age’ crime whatever you want to label it with. I think the justice in me likes to see the good be treated as such and the bad dealt with correctly. A very ‘black and white’ kind of view, but I have been called a ‘black and white’ person before so I think it all fits. The book – actually belongs to my mum, who has read it and loved it and therefore it is something we share together. Now I have read it, I know my mum will want to reread it again. That is the joy of books.