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The Circular Staircase (Dover Mystery…

The Circular Staircase (Dover Mystery Classics) (original 1913; edition 1997)

by Mary Roberts Rinehart

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7232919,478 (3.39)86
Title:The Circular Staircase (Dover Mystery Classics)
Authors:Mary Roberts Rinehart
Info:Dover Publications (1997), Paperback, 192 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:mystery, gothic, romantic suspense, southern

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The Circular Staircase by Mary Roberts Rinehart (1913)



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Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
3.5 stars ( )
  natcontrary | May 21, 2018 |
The Circular Staircase by Mary Roberts Rinehart; (4*)

It has been many years since my last Rinehart read and in reading The Circular Staircase, I was reminded anew how well respected and beloved Mary Roberts Rinehart was & perhaps still is in this style of the genre. Quite a remarkable read, this little book has several different, but still associated, mysteries going on at once. There is the theft of all the local Bank's securities, a couple of good & ghoulish murders to be reconciled, a kidnapping, a mysterious disappearance, a mansion that tends to be broken into nightly upsetting the entire household, among other little mysteries.
Our protagonist & heroine is the spinster auntie of a young man & his sister. She has rented the manse for the season whilst her home is being remodeled & updated. Those whom the mysteries effect and those who are causing are in great part affiliated with the home owner of the house she has taken. And of course she, her niece & her nephew are affected by all of the goings on and are in the midst of the solving of the mysteries.
I do enjoy a cosy mystery and I loved this one. It is a terrific book with which to cuddle into your favorite chair and spend an afternoon reading. I highly recommend it for those of you inclined to this genre. ( )
  rainpebble | Jan 29, 2017 |
by Mary Roberts Rinehart (Fiction, Mystery, Vintage)

Mary Roberts Rinehart was considered the American Agatha Christie and for many years reigned as queen of the American mystery genre. The Circular Staircase was her second published book (1908) and featured the second, and last, outing of the tart-tongued middle-aged Miss Cornelia Van Gorder. Miss Van Gorder has invited her niece and nephew to accompany her to a country house for a relaxing summer. But instead of rural quiet they found murder and hijinks.
Roberts Rinehart wrote with humour and a great sense of place and time, but I found it just a little too madcap.

3½ stars ( )
  ParadisePorch | Dec 5, 2016 |
Wow, this was so not the book I was expecting!

I was expecting something... I don't know, a bit more staid, maybe? Something with a more linear plot; at just a little over 170 pages it didn't seem there was much room for complex plotting.

Boy was I wrong! Rachel is hysterical: biting wit, sarcastic and pragmatic. Her relationship with her maid, Liddy, provides comic relief throughout the book. And the plotting was labyrinthine! The country house is at the centre of the mystery, and there are so many events, so many threads, so many bodies! I never had half an idea what was really going on and I loathed putting down the book.

The story is told in first person past: Rachel is writing an account of the event long after its resolution and frequently speaks directly to the reader. The book is billed as a romantic suspense and the suspense is there, but all romance happens at a remove. I would not, by today's terms, call this at all romantic. It could be argued to be gothic, as the book comes complete with large house, strange noises in the night, candles down darkened hallways and sightings of ghosts, but there's too much humour; I don't think your supposed to laugh out loud while reading a gothic.

The writing is brilliant; I don't think I had one inkling of what was going to happen before it happened. There were at least two plot twists that totally surprised me. Rachel might be the prototype TSTL female, but it didn't bother me here - although at the end I did roll my eyes once.

There was only one thing stopping me from calling this the perfect mystery book. It was first published in 1908 and even in this context it is so blatantly racist it made me gasp out loud. Rachel casually makes the bluntest racial comments, but shows respect and detached affection for the black butler, Thomas Johnson, and the author's intent to make him quietly heroic feels unquestionable (although she does adhere to some embarrassing stereotypes) - but this makes it all the more painful to read. Those three or four sentences in the book tarnished what would have been, for me, a perfect read.

Rinehart was a master of mystery writing and I am, in spite of the distasteful moments, definitely going to check out more of her work. ( )
  murderbydeath | Oct 11, 2016 |
From Amazon:

The Circular Staircase, Mary Roberts Rinehart's classic tale of murder and intrigue in a pre-World War I mansion, is evocative yet strangely modern, a sort of CSI: Downton Abbey, with butlers and maids sprinkled in amongst the bodies and evidence. With elements of romance, white collar crime, class, race, poverty, and privilege, it's a story told with such a deft hand that it will keep you guessing right to the end, all the while keeping you entertained with the trappings of the gilded age and a hint of the supernatural.

My Thoughts:

This book was written and published in 1908...the first novel by a woman that has been described as the American Agatha Christie of her era. Rinehart's special gift was in the evocation of an overlying and unremitting atmosphere of unease and potential danger and it is under such an atmosphere of apprehension that she spins her stories. For some time some critics in the literary world have tended to dismiss the novels of Mary Roberts Rinehart as old fashioned. This may apply to superficial details -- such as gas lighting -- but it definitely is not true of the novels themselves which are timeless in their ability to hold the reader in a grip of mystery and suspense. There are racial comments that may offend some, but bear in mind the time in history the book was penned. ( )
  Carol420 | May 31, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (28 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rinehart, Mary Robertsprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Berdini, MarinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Burns, RebeccaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hardin, CindyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Herzog, Hans M.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Penzler, OttoIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ralph, LesterIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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.
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Book description
An aging spinster and her young wards investigate the inexplicable evil presence that darkens the musty corridors of their Elizabethan mansion.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0486297136, Paperback)

A middle-aged spinster rents a country house for the summer and soon finds herself plunged into a nasty scenario of bank defaults, stolen securities and murder. An entertaining blend of intrigue, villainy and heart-pounding suspense for crime fiction buffs and lovers of great mystery classics.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:12 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

The first novel by Mary Roberts Rinehart, America's queen of crime 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. So says Rachel Innes, the spinster in question and one of the most remarkable heroines in American crime fiction. With the irresistible encouragement of her niece Gertrude and nephew Halsey, whom she raised after her brother's death, Rachel ignores her better judgment and rents Sunnyside, a sprawling Elizabethan mansion owned by a bank president, for the summer. The first night passes peacefully. In the morning, the entire staff quits. Late the third night, a sinister figure lurks outside the patio window and Rachel hears a heavy crash on the circular staircase at the east end of the house. The fourth night brings a dead body. From there, things only get worse. The dead man turns out to be Arnold Armstrong, ne'er-do-well son of the owner of Sunnyside. Aunt Rachel has never seen him before, but Gertrude and Halsey knew him all too well. When the investigating detective directs his attention to her niece and nephew, Aunt Rachel decides to solve the murder herself-and walks straight into a web of deceit and treachery so intricate she might never find her way out. This ebook features a new introduction by Otto Penzler and has been professionally proofread to ensure accuracy and readability on all devices.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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Tantor Media

2 editions of this book were published by Tantor Media.

Editions: 1400102049, 1400110823

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