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Good Literature for Children & Adults

A couple of Louise Penny’s favourite mystery novels.


This fall Louise Penny shared her favourite mystery novels with a CBS reporter; they included Raven Black by Ann Cleeves and Josephine Tey’s The Franchise Affair.

Raven Black is the first of Ann Cleeves Shetland series, featuring DI Jimmy Perez. Louise Penny says, “This was the first of Ann's books I read - and I was there the evening it deservedly won the CWA Gold Dagger in the UK. Wonderful book, wonderful writer.”

Ann Cleeves has written many more books since the publication of Raven Black and has become one of our best-selling mystery writers. Her most recent novel is The Seagull, the eighth in her Vera Stanhope series.


The Seagull brings the past back to haunt Vera. Those who have followed this series will know that Vera was raised by her widowed father, a poacher who provided birds and bird’s eggs to collectors.

It is when Vera meets an old friend of her father’s, a former Detective Superintendent, now in prison, that she is drawn into an investigation that takes her back to the past. Vera’s childhood and teenage years were often lonely and difficult, especially once she became aware of the criminal activities of her father and his friends. What this man from the past now wants from Vera is protection for his daughter and grandchildren, in return for his promise of information about Vera’s father. Vera is drawn into a maze of crimes, past and present.

“I loved The Seagull,” writes Louise Penny. “Quite simply it reminds me why Ann Cleeves is one of my favourite mystery writers! I relish learning more about Vera with each book, and The Seagull provides fresh insight into one of our most complex and lovable sleuths”.

This year Ann Cleeves is awarded the Crime Writer’s Association Diamond Dagger Award, the highest honour in British crime writing. This award rrecognizes authors whose crime writing careers have been marked by sustained excellence, and who have made a significant contribution to the genre.

The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey, another of Louise Penny’s favourites was published in 1949.


“Not a murder mystery, but a mystery. Has a crime even been committed? It is ingenious.” said Louise Penny about The Franchise Affair.

Not only is it ingenious, it was an absolute pleasure to read! The story begins with a small town lawyer receiving a phone call, a woman begging for his help. Two women, mother and daughter, have been accused of kidnapping and beating a teenage girl. They claim to know nothing of the girl and are desperate for help as Scotland Yard is literally at the door. Though lawyer Robert Blair claims this sort of case is not for him at all, he is truly a kind man and cannot refuse to at least lend what support he can. Trusting, if the women are innocent, as he immediately believes, that Scotland Yard will find the truth and all will be well. Of course, it is not as simple as that as the case is a far more complicated one than is at first apparent. As Robert Blair is drawn into the case, he is also drawn out of his very comfortable existence and into a life he could not have imagined just a few weeks earlier.

Louise Penny is not the only well known mystery writer who claims Josephine Tey as a favourite. Val McDermid wrote a great article about Josephine Tey a couple of years ago that I have linked to this review at It is well worth a read, and I bet, like me, you’ll be looking for more books by Josephine Tey after reading The Franchise Affair

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