Friday, February 15, 2008

Why I love "The Franchise Affair" by Josephine Tey

"You see, I am not a marrying woman. I don't want to have to put up with someone else's crochets, someone else's demands, someone else's colds in the head. Mother and I suit each other perfectly because we make no demands on each other. If one of us has a cold in the head, she retires to her room without fuss and doses her disgusting self until she is fit for human society again."

Written in 1949, The Franchise Affair is acknowledged to be one of the best mysteries of all time. It has been cited in real-live cases. A journalist, reporting on a case of some celebrity a few years ago wrote: "How could such a thing happen? Hadn't any of them read The Franchise Affair?"

My copy is a paperback printed in 1988. Beautiful cover. I regret that this particular edition is out of print and that it is only available in a less-pretty trade-sized edition.

The story revolves around an attorney who is hired by a woman who has been accused of enslaving a young girl and keeping her a prisoner in her house. The attorney believes in the woman's denials and does his utmost to find out what really happened to the girl during the two weeks she claims she was held prisoner. It is well-plotted, tightly written, and very snarky. Many mystery mavens rank Tey higher than Christie, and I have to agree. Christie was more prolific (Tey wrote just eight mysteries), but Tey's books are all better than Christie's best.

A friend of mine is flying to Korea tomorrow and I lent her another Tey, Brat Farrar, to take with her. "Is it good?" she asked. I pointed out the broken binding and the banged up corners. "I've read it at least 20 times. Judge for yourself."

The same goes for The Franchise Affair. I've read it at least 20 times. Judge for yourself.


Magpie said...

Okay, that's going on my list.

Have you read her book "The Daughter of Time"? It's wonderful - a historical mystery.

Madeleine said...

OK, this one my library *does* circulate. It seems to be a 1948 edition, but they have 28 copies. I LOVE Josephine Tey but haven't read this one, so I'm all shivery with excitement.

Thanks for all the book stuff lately!