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CR3 #59: The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey

The Franchise Affair is another well-written, classic mystery by author Josephine Tey.

The book takes place in a small British village called Milford. Robert Blair is a lawyer there, as has a member of his family for more than 150 years. He's a stodgy, forty-something who lives with a doting aunt and has his routines down so pat that he knows exactly what kind of cookies his secretary will be bringing him at tea time every day. Then, one afternoon as he's preparing to leave for the day, he receives a phone call. Two women who live on the outskirts of town need assistance--they've been accused of kidnapping a teenage girl, holding her hostage in their attic, and beating her unmercifully until she was able to escape. Robert would prefer to give the case to someone (anyone) else, since he is much more familiar with cases of probate issues and civil matters. However, the ladies will accept no one else, and he soon finds himself headed out to The Franchise--the dilapidated house where mother/daughter pair live--to see what can be done. Before he knows it, Robert is wrapped up in a game of intrigue, drawn further into the lives of Marian Sharpe and her mother. If he can't prove that the kidnapped girl is lying, his clients could find themselves in jail for quite a long time.

Tey does an excellent job of weaving the plot together, as well as keeping track of a fairly large cast of characters. Robert and Marian Sharpe are particularly well done, as are some of the side characters like Marian's mother, Robert's Aunt Lin, and Robert's old friend (and famous defense attorney) Kevin MacDermott. The plot makes sense, and while not easy to solve, it certainly proceeds in a logical fashion. This is a good solid mystery story by a very successful author.

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