Murder for Christmas

Francis Duncan. Sourcebooks Landmark, $15.99 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-4926-5170-3
First published in the U.K. in 1949, this captivating reissue from the pseudonymous Duncan (1918–1988) takes amateur sleuth and former tobacconist Mordecai Tremaine from London to the West Country, for a Christmas party hosted by retired businessman Benedict Grame at his new home, Sherbroome House. Nicholas Blaise, Grame’s confidential secretary, expressed unease in the invitation, so Tremaine looks carefully at the guests, who include Grame’s edgy sister, Charlotte; Grame’s shady old friend, Jeremy Rainer; and Rainer’s lively ward, Denys Arden. Denys’s devoted suitor, Roger Wynton, whom Rainer dislikes, and a surly stranger hovering outside the house also capture Tremaine’s interest. Grame’s holiday tradition—dressing up as Father Christmas and leaving a present for each guest—takes a morbid turn when someone in a Santa outfit is found dead next to the Christmas tree, and the gifts, along with a valuable necklace, go missing. Unexpected and accomplished twists to the cozy mystery formula add to the old-fashioned pleasures of this novel. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/07/2017
Release date: 10/01/2017
Genre: Fiction
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