Friday, December 22, 2017
Friday's Forgotten Books, December 22, 2017
Louise Penny is the author of the Armand Gamache mysteries, which began with the award-winning STILL LIFE. (from the archives)
The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey
I'm not totally convinced she's been forgotten - I sure hope she hasn't.
But this is my small contribution to helping spread the word. For many
years my favorite Tey book was the remarkable, The Daughter of Time.
Infact, I was resistant to reading The Franchise Affair - perhaps out of a
misguided sense of fidelity to The Daughter of Time. I didn't want to be
seen playing footsy with another one of Tey's creations. Or, more likely,
it was the ridiculous title. The Franchise Affair? I ask you. It sounds
like love among the french fries, or groping in the donuts.
Instead, when I finally succumbed and read The Franchise Affair I was
treated to what I now believe is the best mystery of all time. My heart was
There's no body, no murder in The Franchise Affair, though it is based on
the 18th century case of Elizabeth Canning. Like all of Josephine Tey's
books it's about appearances vs reality. Perceptions and manipulation.
Duality. What else drives a really great mystery? Not blood, not a body -
but what's eating away at the marrow. Our deepest selves, hidden, masked.
Then agonizingly revealed.
On the surface The Franchise Affair is about a fresh-faced young woman,
barely more than a girl, who accuses an elderly woman and her spinster
daughter of kidnapping and holding her in their dreary old home on the edge
of the village.
Like all of Tey's works this one is short, almost novella length. And
crystalline in its clarity. It is, in short, brilliant. Disturbing, witty,
insightful. And more horrific than any body count could ever achieve.
Josephine Tey - a pen-name for Elizabeth MacKintosh - wrote all 6 of her
mysteries between 1947 and 1952. Then she died, in her mid-50's. Almost
nothing is known of the woman. No photograph exists of her. Like her
books, she's a mystery. A real woman lurking behind a made-up one. But I
have happily given my heart to her.
Sergio Angelini, ZERO COOL, Michael Crichton
Yvette Banek, THE NOOSE, Philip MacDonald
Les Blatt, BURIED FOR PLEASURE, Edmund Crispin
Elgin Bleecker, MAIGRET'S CHRISTMAS, Georges Simenon
Brian Busby, THE MYSTERY OF THE MUFFLED MAN, Max Braithwaite
Martin Edwards, MISCHIEF, Charlotte Armstrong
Curt Evans, Marion Babson
Charles Gramlich, HAWK OF THE WILDERNESS, William L. Chester
Richard Horton, Carol Emshwiller
Jerry House, ROADS, Seabury Quinn
George Kelley, CRIME FOR CHRISTMAS. ed. Richard Dalby
Margot Kinberg, RED HERRING, Jonothan Cullinane
Rob Kitchin, A COLD RED SUNRISE, Stuary Kaminsky
Evan Lewis, DEAD SOLDIERS, Bill Crider
Steve Lewis, THE CLOCK STRIKES TWELVE, Patricia Wentworth
Barry Malzberg, ANATOMY OF A MURDERER, Peter Rabe
Todd Mason, An Assortment of Reviews
J.F. Norris, THE CLOCK IN THE HATBOX, Anthony Gilbert
Juri Numellin, HEAD GAMES, Craig Macdonald and Kevin Singles
Matt Paust, THE CONSTANT GARDENER, John LeCarre
James Reasoner, THE CHRISTMAS KILL, Nick Carter
Kevin Tipple/Barry Ergang,, OUTRAGE AT BLANCO
TomCat, CASE CLOSED, Gosha Aoyama
TracyK, ENVIOUS CASCA, Georgette Heyer