Vintage to publish four new books by Francis Duncan

Vintage Books has acquired world all language rights to a further four crime novels from Francis Duncan, author of Murder for Christmas. Murder Has a Motive, So Pretty a Problem, In at the Death and Behold a Fair Woman will be publishing on 25th August 2016.

With the publication of Murder for Christmas in December 2015, a campaign was launched to plea for information to discover exactly who the mysterious author Francis Duncan was. Following the hunt, Duncan’s daughter Kathryn and son, Derek, came forward to confirm his identity as William Underhill and were thrilled to discover their father’s work being published.

Murder For Christmas by Francis DuncanThe four new classic crime novels by Francis Duncan bring amateur sleuth Mordecai Tremaine back in a series of golden age murder mystery reads.

Aine Mulkeen, Editor at Vintage, said: ‘When we introduced amateur sleuth Mordecai Tremaine to readers last year we knew that armchair detectives everywhere would take him, his pince-nez and his love of romance novels to their hearts. Now we’re absolutely thrilled to be bringing four more of his cases back into print, and we’re delighted that Francis Duncan’s daughter and son helped us to solve the mystery behind Mordecai’s enigmatic author’

Kathryn Brown, daughter of Francis Duncan, said: ‘I am really looking forward to seeing the next Mordecai books and am delighted that Vintage are bringing this amiable detective to a new audience. My father would have been thrilled.’ Her brother, Derek Underhill, added: ‘Reading my father’s detective novels again after more than half a century has been delightful time travel in the company of Mordecai Tremaine, his intriguing sleuth. I am amazed by their inventiveness and craftsmanship!’

Francis Duncan is the pseudonym for William Underhill, who was born in 1918. He lived virtually all his life in Bristol. Although a conscientious objector, he served in the Royal Army Medical Corps in World War II, landing in France shortly after D-Day. After the war he trained as a teacher and spent the rest of his life in education, first as a primary school teacher and then as a lecturer in a college of further education. In the 1950s he studied for an external economics degree from London University. No mean feat with a family to support; his daughter, Kathryn, was born in 1943 and his son, Derek, in 1949.

Throughout much of this time he continued to write detective fiction from ‘sheer inner necessity’, but also to supplement a modest income. He enjoyed foreign travel, particularly to France, and took up golf on retirement. He died of a heart attack shortly after celebrating his fiftieth wedding anniversary in 1988.

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