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Best Mysteries of Mary Roberts Rinehart:…
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Best Mysteries of Mary Roberts Rinehart: Four Complete Novels by…

by Mary Roberts Rinehart

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I had never heard of Mrs. Rinehart's work until they were referenced in another mystery series that I enjoy. The (fictional) bookstore owner randomly talks about some of her favorite authors and, trusting her judgement as if she were an actual living book lover, I have already read several authors that she deems worthy. (This isn't such a stretch, really, because I assume the opinions the character shares are also held by the author, and therefore are coming from an actual living person, in a sense.) I plan to continue pursuing other mysteries referenced in this book - Death on Demand, for the curious - because every title that I have read based on its recommendation has been worthwhile.

As for Rinehart, her mysteries are highly enjoyable. They are old fashioned whodunits that focus on the clues and suspects; some of the action always occurs in a large house with multiple rooms, stairways, and hidden entries that are ideal for chases and mysterious disappearances. The main characters are of the genteel upper or upper middle classes, and they have a host of servants, friends, and enemies, all of whom serve as suspects. In each story, some hair-raising incident has to happen in the night; usually, more than one night adventure occurs.

Since this book is a collection of four different stories - three novels and one novella - I can generalize and say that these are all trends of Rinehart's writing. Everything I described above was included in all four tales. Of course, each story has its differences, too: two of the narrators are male, two are female, one mystery surrounds a disappeared politician, one involves inexplicable hauntings of a house that a respectable spinster has rented for the summer, the third features a crazy mystery of moved bodies and missing papers aboard a train, and the novella is about the strange disappearance and reappearance of a young socialite. The trimmings differ, but the way clues unfold and the type of personalities created bear a lot in common. Since mystery writing is frequently formulaic, this didn't bother me; as long as the formula is a good one, I don't mind stepping into it time and again. Give me enough difference that it is a new story, make me like the new characters, and let each mystery be different and have a new resolution, and I will gladly accept a repetition of some of the same tricks to draw all these pieces together.

Simply put, I enjoyed reading these mysteries. They didn't astound me, nor have her characters made my favorite sleuth list, but they were fun. She had her flaws, much of which reflect her time. Her attitude toward African Americans, for instance, was highly demeaning, and her attitude toward women, while not from the dark ages, was still underwhelming; but I can understand that she is a product of the era in which she lived. The mysteries, though, kept my interest and presented a fun few hours of reading. If you are a mystery buff interested in reading new authors, I'd recommend giving Rinehart's work a try. ( )
  nmhale | Oct 7, 2011 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mary Roberts Rinehartprimary authorall editionscalculated
Arzt, RobinCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carnegie Library of PittsburghAuthor photosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jaunzems, EvaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Morris, Kevin R.Cover photosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0762188774, Hardcover)

In one 608-page volume are four complete works of spine-tingling villainy, odious murder and sophisticated detection from America's first woman of mystery. Mystery aficionados will bask in brilliant twists and work alongside genteel detectives in The Circular Staircase, The Man in Lower Ten, The Window at the White Cat, and The Buckled Bag.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:15 -0400)

In 1905 Rinehart entered a field exclusive to men: detective fiction. Now, nearly a century after she began her career, her celebrated mysteries are collected in one handsome volume. With a biographical portrait of Rinehart and an illuminating introduction to her writing and her times.… (more)

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