Mordecai Tremaine arrives at the country estate of Benedict Grame on Christmas Eve. Soon he discovers that the holiday celebrations are in full swing in the sleepy village of Sherbroome. Yet, as festive as it may seem there is tension between the guests and the host.
Benedict loves to set a mood of an older time for his guests, including dressing up as Father Christmas and placing gifts on the tree. At midnight, a scream rings out, and the guests discover that presents aren’t the only things nestled under the tree. The body of Father Christmas lays under the tree. With the snow falling and suspicions flying, it’s up to Mordecai to find the killer and prevent a murderer from getting away.
Series: Mordecai Tremaine Mystery Book 1
Author: Francis Duncan
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Vintage Books
Francis Duncan was the pseudonym for William Underhill, who was born in 1918 and died in 1988. Murder for Christmas was the first book in his Mordecai Tremaine Mystery Series.
Mr. Underhill was a prolific writer of murder mysteries and was of the same caliber as Agatha Christie. Although this book is not the fast pace style of a Christie novel, it nevertheless intrigues and entertains. Underhill could weave a story that kept the reader guessing until the very end and provided a conclusion to the mystery that fulfilled all the reader’s needs. His stories were well written, detailed and allowed the reader to drift away to a different place and time. Leaving them with the feeling of having actually walked the streets and investigated an old mansion in the heart of England. His writing was never boring.
The characters in Murder for Christmas are well rounded with personalities and quirks that make the reader smile and frown. Mordecai Tremaine is a very likable character with a penchant for romance stories. Readers will love his romanticism while staying impersonal and objective. His methods are unique, and his results cannot be argued.
The remaining characters, Denys, Roger, Charlotte, and so forth, as well as the killer, are wonderfully written with hints of secrets and motives. The reader will keep changing their mind about who did it as the clues are explained and the questions answered. The final reveal may even have readers stunned by how wrong they were, or congratulating themselves for being right.
The setting is picturesque and perfect for a Christmas murder. The reader will have a sense of winter, cold and a touch of holidays the way they used to be. The small village and the residents are described in such a way that the reader is taken back in time. A time when small town life meant everyone knew everyone else’s business and strangers were spotted a mile away but did not remain strangers for long.
Mr. Underhill’s books and Murder for Christmas are highly recommended to those who are true murder mystery fans, lovers of Agatha Christie, and those that enjoy a journey through time.