Vintage to publish Francis Duncan murder mystery series

Vintage to publish Francis Duncan murder mystery series

Vintage is publishing four new crime novels from classic crime author Francis Duncan. 

Aine Mulkeen for Vintage acquired world all language rights directly via the author's family. The books, Murder Has a Motive, So Pretty a Problem, In at the Death and Behold a Fair Woman, will publish together on 25th August 2016.

Duncan's novel Murder for Christmas published at the end of last year in December 2015. An old edition of the book was found after Mulkeen unearthed it from Vintage's archive library. Because Vintage didn’t have any information available about the author, a campaign was subsequently launched as a plea for information to discover, ‘Who is Francis Duncan, the mystery crime writer?’ Following the hunt, Duncan’s daughter Kathryn and son, Derek, came forward to confirm his identity as William Underhill. Vintage said both were "thrilled" to discover their father’s work being published.

The four new classic crime novels by Duncan will 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."

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.