Murder For Christmas by Francis Duncan
|Murder For Christmas by Francis Duncan|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: Another good entry in the Vintage Murder Mysteries series and a welcome reissue of this hard-to-find book.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 240||Date: November 2015|
Mordecai Tremaine used to be a tobacconist and he was a lover of romance novels, but these were not his main claim to fame: he has a reputation as a sleuth. He was somewhat surprised to be invited to spend Christmas in the peaceful village of Sherbroome at the country home of Benedict Grame, not knowing the man well. When he arrived on Christmas Eve the festivities were in full swing, but - observer of people as he was - he sensed tensions amongst the odd assortment of guests. In the early hours of Christmas Day the household is woken by screams and as everyone assembles downstairs they discover a dead body under the Christmas tree - and he looks decidedly like Father Christmas. It's up to Tremaine to establish who committed the murder.
Murder for Christmas was first published in 1949 and I was a little nervous that the story might not have stood the test of time, but it has, not least because it's about human nature, about power and what people will do to achieve it - and to escape from it. That - regrettably - has not changed at all, and Francis Duncan show an excellent understanding of how it works, how it corrupts those who wield it and those who suffer from its excesses.
The location in a post-war country house is excellent. It's not quite a 'locked room' mystery: although there's snow the house isn't completely cut off from the nearby village, but there's a sufficiently small cast list to encourage speculation as to who might be the murderer and why, but not so many that you give up trying. The male characters came off the page rather better than the female: I occasionally had difficulty differentiating them, but it's a minor quibble in the context of a story which kept me guessing until the final few pages.
I do hope that more of Francis Duncan's Mordecai Tremaine stories will be reprinted. Duncan wrote some twenty books between 1937 and 1959, but Murder at Christmas seems to be the only one which has been reprinted and others are elusive.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
We've been impressed by these reissues of classic murder mysteries by Vintage as they've made some great books which were hard to find readily available. You might like to try Death at the Opera by Gladys Mitchell, Mystery Mile by Margery Allingham and The Luck of the Vails by E F Benson.
You can read more book reviews or buy Murder For Christmas by Francis Duncan at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Murder For Christmas by Francis Duncan at Amazon.com.
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