This novel by Josephine Tey was first published in 1948. Robert Blair is a lawyer in a small English town where he usually attends to wills and conveyancing. One afternoon he receives a phone call asking him to assist a woman who has been visited by police suggesting that she and her mother had kidnapped a fifteen year old girl. The girl is brought to their house, The Franchise, which she had described, and identifies the two women as her captors. The police, however, are not convinced with Betty Kane's story and decide to investigate further.
In the meantime a scandal newspaper publishes the girl's story plus a statement about the supposed inaction of the police. This results in sections of the local public taking actions to persecute the two women, Marion Sharpe and her mother. Robert Blair is determined to prove that Betty Kane's story is a fabrication and most of the novel involves the investigations to prove the innocence of the two accused women.
This is a well written detective story which quickly captured my interest and demanded that I should keep reading. Josephine Tey is particularly interested in depicting characters and in justifying their thoughts and actions. Detective-Inspector Grants appears briefly in the book - he is a major character in a number of other books by Josephine Tey.
The plot of the story is based on events in 1753 when Elizabeth Canning disappeared for a month and then fabricated a story about her disappearance.