Saturday, January 13, 2018

Murder for Christmas by Francis Duncan

Mordecai Tremaine is an amateur detective and he has been invited by Benedict Grame to his estate in the country for a Christmas house party.  As often seems to happen to amateur detectives, murder seems to follow in Tremaine’s wake.  The house party is shocked to discover one of its members murdered at the foot of the Christmas tree dressed as Father Christmas.  Knowing a murdered is amongst their midst, the party is on edge and Mordecai Tremaine is on the case.

I enjoyed this mystery and it was my book for Christmas day reading this year.  I LOVED the setting, a 1930’s English Christmas house party.  Mordecai Tremaine is an eccentric detective and it reminded me of one of my other favorite eccentric detectives Hercule Poirot by Agatha Christie.  I loved all of the side characters and how Tremaine unraveled their histories and hidden secrets.  It was an intriguing mystery.

I was also intrigued about the author Francis Duncan.  I read in the back of the book that he published more than twenty crime novels between 1937 and 1959.  I really enjoyed his writing style.  He has beautiful almost lyrical passages.  I would love to read more of his work.  I also found this interesting article about the mystery of who exactly Francis Duncan is online.  I think it is interesting that this book became a bestseller in England last year, sixty-six years after its publication.  I hope that means more of his work will be published!

Favorite Quotes:

“But no human plan, however devilish its ingenuity, can be depended upon to follow in practice the exact lines of its own theory.”

“He was romantic enough to believe firmly in the sanctity of marriage.”
“It was as though Tremaine was not looking out upon a real scene but gazing at a Christmas picture in a shop window, a picture that possessed a stereoscopic quality that gave it the illusion of life, but which must remain eternally unchanged.”

“Of course!  Without power, what purpose is there in life?  Fame?  Money?  Of what real value are they except for the power they bring with them?  It’s the sense of mastery that lifts a man and makes him forget that he came from dust!”

“It was all wrong that the cold winter beauty upon which he was gazing should be marred by man’s inability to live in charity with his neighbors and that murder should lie like an evil smudge across perfection.”

Overall, Murder for Christmas was an intriguing mystery with fascinating characters and setting.

Book Source:  Review Copy from Sourcebooks.  Thank-you!


  1. Laura,
    This sounds like a marvelous mystery. It is interesting that this book became a best-seller 66 years after it was published! I enjoyed reading your Favorite Quotes, which allowed me to sample the book.

  2. Thank-you! I enjoyed the novel, but finding out the back story on it was even more interesting!