Val McDermid described Josephine Tey as the ‘most interesting of the great female writers of the Golden Age’, and this unconventional crime mystery – one of the best loved of Tey’s works – is a brilliant example of what makes her so unique. A town full of colourful characters and an impossible disappearance, all threaded through with Tey’s signature psychological probing: all of these delicious ingredients explain why The Franchise Affair has repeatedly been adapted for film and television, and why the Crime Writers Association named it one of the Top 100 Crime Novels of All Time. This handsome new edition joins the Folio Tey series with seven sharply observant illustrations by award-winning artist Mark Smith. Lady Antonia Fraser, herself a celebrated author of crime fiction, has provided a thoughtful introduction.
‘My favourite Josephine Tey... gripping [and] a wonderfully evocative period piece’
Lady Antonia Fraser
Bound in blocked buckram
Set in Dante with Station No. 5 display
Frontispiece and 6 colour illustrations
9˝ x 5¾˝
A house of secrets
‘Tey’s style and her knack for creating bizarre characters are among the best in the field’
At first Robert Blair wants nothing to do with the two strange women living up at The Franchise. Already half thought to be witches thanks to their isolation and eccentric ways, Marion Sharpe and her mother are less than popular in the sleepy town of Milford and the situation becomes dire when they wake to find themselves at the centre of a national scandal. A teenage girl called Betty Kane, missing for a month, has claimed that the Sharpe women kept her prisoner and beat her to within an inch of her life. What’s more, she can describe not only her two attackers, but intimate details about the layout of The Franchise itself. Could the lonely women really have kidnapped a girl to be their maid?
To his own surprise, Robert Blair doesn’t think so and, when even the impressive Inspector Grant of Scotland Yard is stumped by the mystery, Blair steps up to the plate. Using all the skills of a small-town solicitor and some more besides, he must untangle a web of lies, gossip and good old-fashioned paranoia.
Inspired by one of the 18th century’s most infamous crimes
Josephine Tey based The Franchise Affair, with its unusual central mystery involving captivity and abuse, on a real case from the 1700s. Elizabeth Canning was a maidservant who went missing in 1753, only to turn up a month later, emaciated and beaten. She told an extraordinary story of being held prisoner in a loft by a group of ne’er-do-wells who wanted to force her into prostitution. The case was a sensation. In her detailed introduction, Lady Antonia Fraser describes The Franchise Affair as her favourite of all Tey’s novels and notes that it is an excellent example of one of the author’s key obsessions. Tey herself was an intensely private person, and it’s easy to see her personal insights coming into play as the Sharpe women, who simply want to live their own quiet lives, are rudely exposed to an unsympathetic public. As ever with Tey’s addictive novels, her clever and witty writing introduces characters who are instantly familiar, whilst also revealing the unexpected and often uneasy truths that motivate them.
The golden age of crime brought to life
Series artist Mark Smith returns to illustrate this latest unmissable addition to The Folio Society’s Josephine Tey collection, having won several awards for his previous artwork for the series. With clever use of angles, cropping, light and period detail, he captures the simmering drama of this absorbing mystery. Just like Tey’s writing, Smith’s images are always telling the reader more than they might see at first glance: watch out for reflections on shiny surfaces, the papers hastily shoved in a pocket, or the tension in the set of someone’s shoulders. Even the handsome binding design, composed of shadows and silhouettes, plays with readers’ expectations of what has happened, or might have happened, in this novel’s twisty narrative.
About Josephine Tey
Josephine Tey was the pen-name of Elizabeth MacKintosh, playwright and author of some of the finest detective novels from the Golden Age of crime fiction. She was born in Inverness in 1896, and taught physical education for a number of years before the success of her first book, The Man in the Queue, in 1929. The book introduced her detective protagonist Inspector Grant of Scotland Yard, who would appear in a further five novels: A Shilling for Candles (1936), The Franchise Affair (1948), To Love and Be Wise (1950), The Daughter of Time (1951) and The Singing Sands (1952). Her standalone mysteries include Miss Pym Disposes (1946) and Brat Farrar (1949). Tey also wrote for the theatre, under the pseudonym Gordon Daviot, and had a notable success with Richard of Bordeaux in 1932, starring John Gielgud in the title role. She died in 1952, leaving her entire estate to the National Trust.
About Mark Smith
Mark Smith’s work has been recognised by all the major industry award panels, including Communication Arts, SPD, the V&A Illustration Awards and the UK Association of Illustrators. He has also achieved repeated recognition for his work on the Folio Society series of Josephine Tey novels from 3x3 magazine, New York Society of Illustrators, Los Angeles Society of Illustrators, and the American Illustration annual. As well as books, Smith’s work has appeared in numerous publications, including the New Yorker, the New York Times, the Guardian, the Financial Times and GQ among others.
One of Tey’s finest novels, this suspenseful story centres on the mysterious death of a young man on a train, and the cryptic poem that gradually reveals the greed and envy behind his demise. Award-winning artist Mark Smith illustrates.