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Murder Has a Motive by Francis Duncan
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Murder Has a Motive (1947)

by Francis Duncan

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Amateur detective and "murder magnet" Mordecai Tremaine teams up with Police Inspector Boyce to investigate a series of bloody murders in the English country village of Dalmering. Tremaine can play the role of the ditsy old man as well as he does the sharp amateur detective. This leads people to talk to him and share things they don't want to tell the police; as the British say, he muddles through. In this case, he solves the crimes in spectacular fashion; there's a dramatic reveal scene and would be terrific on screen.
It's a solid whodunit, typical of the 1940's when it was written. A good read. ( )
  BrianEWilliams | Jul 3, 2018 |
A nice little 3.5 1950s British mystery, filled with stereotypes of both men and women, a bit mystical, very normal for its time. I like the detective, Mordecai, and will enjoy reading more of his adventures. ( )
  SuziSteffen | Feb 20, 2018 |
Mordecai Tremaine, fascinated with murder and involved in helping the police with two real-life murder cases since his retirement, happens to be visiting friends in the small town of Dalmering on the same day Lydia Dare has been found stabbed to death. He is a self-effacing man, who seems to have a knack for understanding the motivations of his fellow man, which can be very helpful in solving murder cases. Inspector Boyce of Scotland Yard, who has been called in to head the investigation, again allows Mordecai to assist him. As Mordecai attends the rehearsals for the play that Dalmering’s residents are putting on, “Murder Has a Motive – A Play in Three Acts,” he soon realizes that reality seems to be mirroring the acts of the play. When a second murder takes place, Mordecai realizes he must act quickly before the third act is played out in real life.

Murder Has a Motive was originally published in 1947 and is the first book in the Mordecai Tremaine series by Francis Duncan. Duncan’s writing style is very easy to read, and I was instantly drawn into the story. There isn’t a lot of action or suspense in the book, but it moved along well and included a surprise or two. Inspector Boyce is not the clueless, blundering policeman that one sometimes finds in amateur detective books, but it is still all Mordecai with the final solution, who gathers the cast together in the final scene to unmask the murder. It is a solid piece of Golden Age detective fiction, with a compelling plot.

I enjoyed this quote at the end of the book as Mordecai wrestles with consequences of his investigation.

"You couldn’t see only beauty in the world. You had to see the disfiguring stains, the sordid and sprawling things, too. Because that was life. Life was ugly and untidy besides being beautiful and marvelous and full of wonder. You had to see the dirt as well as the stars. To see the dirt and not become a cynic, to hold fast to one’s ideals, to preserve one’s belief in the underlying decencies of humanity—that was the real purpose of living."

I received this book from NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  rretzler | Feb 1, 2018 |
This book was great. Once started I had to end it.
The writer is good on building the atmosphere of mistrust and fear and to play with the idyllic settings against the brutal murders.
It contains a lot of elements of the Golden Age of Mystery and, though it is nearly 70 years old it had stood the test of time
I never heard about Francis Duncan before and went looking for other mystery he wrote.
Many thanks to Netgalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for giving me the chance to read and review this book ( )
  annarellix | Jan 31, 2018 |
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Lydia Dare was dining with a murderer.
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When Mordecai Tremaine emerges from the train station, murder is the last thing on his mind. But then again, he has never been able to resist anything in the nature of a mystery - and a mystery is precisely what awaits him in the village of Dalmering. Rehearsals for the local amateur dramatic production are in full swing - but as Mordecai discovers all too soon, the real tragedy is unfolding offstage. The star of the show has been found dead, and the spotlight is soon on Mordecai, whose reputation in the field of crime-solving precedes him. With a murderer waiting in the wings, it?s up to Mordecai to derail the killer?s performance?before it?s curtains for another victim.… (more)

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