The Man in the Lower Ten and The Circular Staircase – Mary Roberts Rinehart

Happy Thanksgiving to all those who celebrate it!

The next couple of books up for review are:

The Man in Lower Ten

From the Publisher:

“The Man in Lower Ten” is one of the earliest works by Mary Roberts Rinehart, arguably the greatest American mystery writer of her generation. Vividly imagined, it combines adventure, suspense, horror, and mystery at breakneck speed.While riding on a train, a man is murdered. Blakeley believes, to his horror, that he was the intended victim …. but then circumstantial evidence starts flagging him as the murderer! Complicating everything is the mysterious young woman, and Blakeley doesn’t know just how she’s involved with the murder — what he does know is that she’s involved with his best friend and business partner, which puts another kink in the works. Rounding out the usual suspects is an amateur detective who gets as many misses as he does hits as everyone tries to figure out who was “The Man In Lower Ten.”

My thoughts:

Overall, I found this book enjoyable.  But, it was a little too convoluted.  The story was interesting, the characters were interesting, the mystery was interesting, but there were so many twists and turns that I wonder how in the world the author managed to keep it all straight herself.  It did keep me from guessing who the murderer was, but took away part of my enjoyment in the book.  And I have to say that I looked everywhere for her books, most of which have been out of print for years, and I managed to find them through Amazon Kindle.  I don’t like reading e-books, but when on vacation, they’re perfect as I can’t pack too many books with all the new weight restrictions.

The Circular Staircase

From the Publisher:

This is the story of how a middle-aged spinster lost her mind, deserted her domestic gods in the city, took a furnished house for the summer out of town, and found herself involved in one of those mysterious crimes that keep our newspapers and detective agencies happy and prosperous. For twenty years I had been perfectly comfortable; for twenty years I had had the window-boxes filled in the spring, the carpets lifted, the awnings put up and the furniture covered with brown linen; for as many summers I had said good-bye to my friends, and, after watching their perspiring hegira, had settled down to a delicious quiet in town, where the mail comes three times a day, and the water supply does not depend on a tank on the roof. And then — the madness seized me. When I look back over the months I spent at Sunnyside, I wonder that I survived at all. As it is, I show the wear and tear of my harrowing experiences. I have turned very gray — Liddy reminded me of it, only yesterday, by saying that a little bluing in the rinse-water would make my hair silvery, instead of a yellowish white. I hate to be reminded of unpleasant things and I snapped her off. “No,” I said sharply, “I’m not going to use bluing at my time of life, or starch, either.”

My thoughts:

This novel, like The Man in Lower Ten, has another cast of quirky characters.  Unlike the previous novel, it’s written from a woman’s point of view, and it seemed less convoluted, whilst still packing plenty of action and twists and turns.  I liked the characters, and enjoyed the mystery, and again, I couldn’t figure out who the murderer was.  There were a couple of times when I found the story a little too unbelievable, but overall I found it enjoyable.  The only thing that bothered me about this book were the racial overtones, but I understand that it was just a product of its era.  Other than that, good descriptions of the era, good humour and plenty of spookiness and suspense spread throughout, what more could you ask for?  This was another great find from Amazon Kindle-I guess I’ll keep looking there for all the out of print mysteries I want to read.


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