A classic Golden Age mystery perfect for fans of Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot
When Mordecai Tremaine emerges from the train station in the village of Dalmering, murder is the last thing on his mind. But he has never been able to resist anything in the way of a mystery—and a mystery is precisely what awaits him in the small hamlet.
Rehearsals for the local amateur dramatic production are in full swing, but as Mordecai discovers too soon, the real tragedy is unfolding offstage. The star of the show has been found dead, and the spotlight falls 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.
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Great and well written murder mystery... suspense till the end. Looking forward to next one. MC
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.