Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Murder has a Motive (Mordecai Tremaine #2)” as Want to Read:
Murder has a Motive (Mordecai Tremaine #2)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Murder has a Motive

(Mordecai Tremaine #2)

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  501 ratings  ·  88 reviews
Amateur sleuth Mordecai Tremaine is back in another classic mystery from the author of Murder for Christmas

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 fo
Published August 25th 2016 by Vintage Digital (first published 1947)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Murder has a Motive, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Murder has a Motive

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.61  · 
Rating details
 ·  501 ratings  ·  88 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Murder has a Motive (Mordecai Tremaine #2)
Nov 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Although listed as the first in the Mordecai Treymaine series, it is difficult to know whether this is, in fact, the case. When we first meet Mordecai Treymaine in this mystery, it is clear that he has been involved in other murder cases. For those of us who enjoy Golden Age mysteries, this is a wonderful time, with so many authors being re-published. Francis Duncan, the pseudonym for William Underhill, was born in 1918 and his first detective story was published in 1938. This novel was first pu ...more
Jan 30, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Murder Has a Motive is a quintessential old-fashioned English murder mystery featuring amateur detective Mordecai Tremaine. The plot of this book progresses steadily, with answers being revealed that adds even more questions, until it all comes together at the very end. Even though I could guess whodunnit and their motives about halfway through, it was still fun to read to the end and see all clues I had missed. The pacing of this book is slower than others I've read in the same genre, such as A ...more
Apr 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Mordecai Tremaine is staying with an old friend in the village of Dalmering. He is in the right place at the right time to investigate a murder. The local amateur dramatic society is involved in the rehearsals for a play about murder but the star of the play has been murdered. Mordecai's friend Chief Inspector John Boyce from Scotland Yard is on the scene to investigate the crime but he is more than willing to accept Mordecai's help.

This book was first published in the 1940s but has stood the te
Kris - My Novelesque Life
Jan 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
(I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY)
(Review Not on Blog)

This is a reissue from the 1940s and it is a novel is written like it's peers, Agatha Christie (Poirot) and Patricia Wentworth (Miss. Silver). Mordecai Tremaine is a fun character and the mysteries are fun. I am definitely in for the rest of the series. I hope that they all get reissued or are easy to find.
This book reminded me a lot of Agatha Christie. Tremaine is very similar to Poirot, super British, traditional, and an amateur sleuth. The plot with three different murders and the backdrop of the play, and of course the fantastic reveal at the very end, was fantastic! I really enjoyed listening to the audio version, the narrator did a really good job of conveying this quaint British village.
Aug 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: england, own
I devoured this book in one sitting. I enjoyed the main characters and their quirks and foibles as well as the characters around which this story is set. The author did an excellent job, in my humble opinion, with the atmosphere and ambience of an English village. There are clues and red herrings aplenty along with twists and turns.
I realized that this book is not a true cozy in that there is quite a bit of the psychological thriller aspect, and although I shun those types of books like the pla
Emily M
May 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
Definitely a B-level Golden Age Detective writer. There was too much description of characters' slight sensuous mouths or clear eyes, but the cast of characters was broad enough that a lot of the minor characters ran together. I wasn't captivated by Mr. Tremaine, and I hate it when the detective bluffs the murderer into confessing without having any proof. The motive was okay, but the story dragged--seriously, I had to force myself to finish. Lacks the spark of Christie, Sayers, or Allingham. ...more
Peter Ackerman
Jan 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Murder Has a Motive is the second in the now rediscovered Mordecai Tremaine detective series. As in the previous book (though I do not believe this series is being republished in order) Murder for Christmas, the reader finds the amature detective and retired tobacconist, and friend of a Scotland Yard detective embroiled in yet another mystery.
This one has the detective coming to a small village to stay with friends, some of whom are performig in a community play (the same title as the novel). W
Nov 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Mordecai Euripides Tremaine, retired tobacconist and murder magnet, arrives for a holiday in the English village of Dalmering. He is immediately plunged into a murder investigation as a leading lady in the amateur dramatic group’s production of “Murder Has a Motive” has just been found dead.

There is an atmosphere of mistrust and evil about, and, soon, real events are shown to mirror those in the play as two more villagers are murdered.

Francis Duncan is good at conveying atmosphere and the openin
Jul 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
I can't agree with the reviewers who compare Duncan with Christie. Other than being "cozies" set in the same time period, there's very little similarity. His characters are flat and two-dimensional - and there are far too many of them. They all speak with the same voice, his detective included. Christie populated her works with eccentric characters who were readily identifiable from their speech. Duncan is forced to use "[Character] said" every time anyone speaks, or we would have no idea who wa ...more
John Frankham
Apr 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime-detective
One of these 'classic' whodunnits being republished in droves - a recovered work from 1947. All the suspects are rehearsing to play in a murder mystery by an unknown author. This book is not bad - a bit like an amateur apprentice piece. Enjoyable but creaky.

"Amateur sleuth Mordecai Tremaine is back in another classic mystery from the author of Murder for Christmas. When Mordecai Tremaine emerges from the train station, murder is the last thing on his mind. But then again, he has never been able
Elaine Tomasso
Nov 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would like to thank Netgalley and Sourcebooks Inc. for a review copy of Murder has a Motive, the first novel to feature amateur sleuth Mordecai Tremaine which was originally published in 1947.

Mordecai has arranged to visit friends, Dr Paul Russell and his wife, Jean, in the seaside town of Dalmering but when he gets there he is greeted with the tragic news that there has been a murder the night before when Lydia Dare was brutally stabbed to death on her way home from dinner with a friend. Init
Carol Evans
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
I admit it – I love vintage mysteries. In spite of the predictability, in spite of the stereotypes, I truly enjoy them. They’re a little like stepping back in time.

Murder Has a Motive was originally published in the late 1940s, a great time for mysteries. Mordecai Tremaine is a retired tobacconist with a penchant for mysteries. He had been planning on staying with friends in Dalmering, but as we all know, murder follows amateur detectives around. when Mordecai arrives, his friends tell him that
Barb in Maryland
Well done murder mystery set in a small English village. Our mild mannered amateur sleuth, Mordecai Tremaine, has a tough case on his hands. Fortunately for him, his friend from Scotland Yard, Inspector Jonathan Boyce, has been brought in. I think I liked Inspector Boyce just as much as I did Tremaine.
As is usual in this kind of mystery, there is a small pool of suspects. I knew better than to believe that the most obvious suspect was the murderer but I was pleasantly surprised when the villain
Mar 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery-england
Amateur detective Tremaine is just planning to visit old friends in the lovely little village of Dalmering, but when he arrives he finds that a woman had been murdered the previous night. She, and his friends, were part of a group that is putting on a play for charity. There's one obvious suspect for the murder--the man who had dined with the dead woman the night of the crime. But Scotland Yard is on the case, in the person of Tremaine's friend Boyce. Most villages know all about the residents, ...more
Chi Dubinski
Oct 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Mordecai Tremaine is a retired tobacco shop owner, who loves to travel and observe people. When he was able to assist the local police in solving a murder, he became an unofficial consultant. In this book, he travels to the village of Dalmering, where a local amateur theater production has ended in a murder. Which of the cast members is the killer? This is a reprint of a book published in the 1950s. Duncan is the pen name of an author who wrote during the 1930s-1950s, and fans of Golden Age writ ...more
Jan 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 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 ...more
An okay read, just not as good as my favorites from this time period.
Enjoyable and soothing. The detective was likable. Would read more in the series.
This is in the school of Agatha Christie--but not an AP class.
Nov 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
The description of the book sounded a lot like one of Agatha Christie's novels, and I'm a huge Mrs. Christie's fan.

The story begins with a murder of a young woman in a small English village Dalmering. Private detective Mordecai Tremaine just happens to visit his this particular village for a holiday. What a coincidence, isn't it? Well, the murderer is not very pleased with this particular "hiccup" in their plan. And one of the Scotland Yard's detectives' that works on the case is actually Mordec
Diane Hernandez
Murder has a Motive

Francis Duncan

Something wicked this way comes.

Something evil is loose in small British village of Dalmering. A woman is stabbed in a wood right before her wedding. What could be the possible motive for killing someone liked by the entire village? Could the murderer be her last dinner companion with whom she didn't share romantic feelings? A mysterious stranger seen lurking about the village? Why didn't her roommate of many years call the police when she failed to return after
Jan 03, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
At first, I found it annoyingly slow then suddenly I realized I couldn’t put it down. The transition between molasses slow and intensely relentless was very subtle and well done. One minute I was ready to quit because of the annoying repetition about the atmosphere and the detective’s quirks, and the next I was wondering how he would get himself out of the tangle and make it clear to everyone else.
I guessed quite early who did it, but I wasn’t sure. Duncan gave so many clues, true and false, t
Mar 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Like Miss Marple, murder seems to have a habit of following Mordecai Tremaine around. When visiting old friends in the village of Dalmering, very English, very scenic far removed from the ugliness of murder and suspects, he unexpectedly finds himself in the midst of a murder where suspects are rife and though public opinion is determinedly fixed on one candidate, both Scotland Yard and our Mr. Tremaine thinks it fits in too neatly and seems too easy.

When a second murder takes place, the whole vi
Nov 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, historical
"Murder Has a Motive" is a mystery novel that was originally published in 1947 and is set in England. The real murders mimic the murders in a play that the locals are putting on. The play suggests whodunit, but the detective feels that the similarities are misleading.

The amateur detective, Mordecai, snooped around and collected clues. While it was a clue-based mystery, Mordecai seemed most taken by the atmosphere of evil that he felt about the place. While I did correctly guess whodunit and why
Eric  Overkamp
Jan 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
I simply love a good murder mystery. 'Murder has a Motive' certainly didn't disappoint me.

Mordecai E. Tremaine visits friends on the coast the day after a gruesome murder occurred. During his stay there, he comes upon a strange little town that seems to be festering beneath its happy, carefree exterior. Tremaine teams up with his contact in the Scotland Yard again, much to the chagrin (and later relief) of Inspector Boyce. Tremaine has a cool, collected way of sleuthing and the hardest thing fo
May 04, 2020 rated it liked it
apparently these Golden Age mysteries are being reprinted, but out of order. this particular story is about the people living in Dalmering, a seemingly peaceful country town that is undergoing some old-school gentrification, as wealthy London types are moving in to live part-time in the country. there's a repeated assertion about a sense of evil pervading the town; it's revealed at the end of the story that this sense has come from everyone's scandalous secrets and misbehavior. naturally, everyo ...more
Jun 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is a must read. The order they are saying this series should be read in is confusing and debatable. I’ve chosen to read in the order of their original publish date. By all accounts this should be first but it definitely eludes to two other cases the main character Mordecai has helped to solve and none are in any of his current published works. Hope they find them laying around somewhere and re-release them. The style of writing that Francis Duncan writes in is simply brilliant. I’ve no ...more
A small English town is putting on a play with the proceeds going to the local orphanage. But one of the players is murdered. Is it because the play, describing a secret love and a man cheating on his wife, hits a little too close to home? The local police immediately call in Scotland Yard who shows up in the form of Inspector Boyce. Boyce is not at all sad to see his acquaintance, retired tobacconist, Mordecai Tremain show up. Mordecai is in town to visit his friends and is shocked to hear of t ...more
Linda Brue
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is the second of three mysteries featuring Mordecai Tremaine, an elderly man fascinated by the crime of murder. And when one occurs, he is right in the middle of it, and Inspector Boyce of Scotland Yard is happy to allow him to assist. The murder revolves around a local amateur production of "Murder Has a Motive," a three-act play, and all the actors and people involved with its' production. When Tremaine realizes that the murder seems to be connected to the play, he must figure out the cul ...more
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Duplicate Death (Inspectors Hannasyde & Hemingway #7)
  • First Person Singular: Stories
  • Murder in the Rue Dumas (Verlaque and Bonnet, #2)
  • The Christmas Egg (Inspector Brett Nightingale, #3)
  • Envious Casca (Inspectors Hannasyde & Hemingway #6)
  • The Christmas Card Crime and Other Stories
  • Detection Unlimited (Inspectors Hannasyde & Hemingway #8)
  • Bats in the Belfry (Robert MacDonald #13)
  • Mystery in White
  • Murder in the Snow: A Cotswold Christmas Mystery
  • A Blunt Instrument (Inspectors Hannasyde & Hemingway, #4)
  • Henrietta Who? (Inspector Sloan #2)
  • Death at the Chateau Bremont (Verlaque and Bonnet, #1)
  • The Stately Home Murder (Inspector Sloan #3)
  • The Vanishing of Dr Winter (Posie Parker Mystery, #4)
  • The Ha-Ha Case (Sir Clinton Driffield #9)
  • Saturnin
  • No Wind of Blame (Inspectors Hannasyde & Hemingway #5)
See similar books…
Francis Duncan is the pseudonym for William Walter Frank Underhill, who was born in 1914. He lived virtually all his life in Bristol and was a 'scholarship boy' boarder at Queen Elizabeth's Hospital school. Due to family circumstances he was unable to go to university and started work in the Housing Department of Bristol City Council. Writing was always important to him and very early on he publis ...more

Other books in the series

Mordecai Tremaine (7 books)
  • They'll Never Find Out (Mordecai Tremaine, #1)
  • Murderer's Bluff (Mordecai Tremaine, #3)
  • Murder for Christmas (Mordecai Tremaine #2)
  • So Pretty a Problem (Mordecai Tremaine #3)
  • In at the Death (Mordecai Tremaine #4)
  • Behold a Fair Woman (Mordecai Tremaine #5)

News & Interviews

Readers have a lot to look forward to this year! Just feast your eyes upon all of these debut books to check out and emerging authors to...
131 likes · 39 comments