Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thorsday Book Review

I got this book at one of the Library Used Book Sales last spring.  Yes, I know I swore off buying more books after Jeff got me the 1000 books from the estate sale for $100 a couple of years back.  But I donated many of those to the 2 libraries which are within 5 miles of my house because I just didn't love them, so I'm entitled, right?  And at $1 or $2 for a nice hardcovered book, how can I possibly refuse?

THE CIRCULAR STAIRCASE
Mary Roberts Rhinehart
copyright 1908

Miss Rachael Innes is a spinster who took in her niece and nephew after her brother died.  They rent a summer house out of the city (presumably Pittsburgh) each year, and this year is no exception; they've rented Sunnyside,  It seems like a nice enough place, but on the second night they're there, strange noises begin to occur; on the third night, Arnold Armstrong, the son of the house's owner, is shot in the house.  A number of seemingly unrelated events occur: Paul Armstrong, the house's owner, dies while on vacation in Colorado.  His bank fails, and its head clerk is suspected of having something to do with the failure.  Rachael's nephew is abducted.  One of the servants turns up dead, maybe of a heart attack, and maybe not.

Aside from the fact that Mrs. Rhinehart could spin a marvelous tale, one of the fun things about reading a book set in the very early 1900s and written then is the realization of how much things are the same, and yet so very different.  Example: some people have yet to accept that the age of the automobile is here to stay.  And one thing I found particularly amusing was that the electric plant closed every night from midnight to about 6AM; if one wanted to have a party lasting beyond then, arrangements had to be made to pay extra for the plant to be open.  And, of course, it's easy to forget that with the failure of Mr. Armstrong's bank, its depositors lost all of they money they had in that bank, because the FDIC didn't exist.

This was a good mystery by a prolific author.  It's available both in real book form, and as a free Kindle e-book (because it was copyrighted before 1923).  I have a few more of her books in real book form, and I downloaded about 15 of them, so I have plenty of reading material available should I long for another great mystery!

Interesting side note: Mrs. Rhinehart started writing when her husband, a doctor, lost substantial money in a stock market crash in 1905; by 1910 she was making $100,000 per year!  Holy Cow!

12 comments:

SissySees said...

I recognize her name, and I'm off to download a free Kindle version!

STELLA and RORY from Down Under said...

Thanks Marjie, I'm off to get the book too! No worries, and love, Carol

Pam said...

I love period mysteries like this.

Blond Duck said...

That's so cute. I guess cars were like social media now.

Pam said...

I've never read any of her books... it sounds like she is a great writer and that this was a good read!

altadenahiker said...

Good lord, $100,000 in 1910? I'm reading this book and taking notes.

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

Downloaded. Thanks have a good day. Diane

Claire S. said...

I just love your reviews of old books, Marjie ! Your bookcases are a treasure trove !

Sue said...

I used to read a lot of her books, but I don't remember them anymore. Guess I need to do some downloads.

altadenahiker said...

I decided to read a couple of pages last night. Ended up reading half the book.

Mickle in NZ said...

How wonderful to discover a new author, and that it is a female writer of mysteries is even better.

I know you will so enjoy the pleasure of reading your way through her other books.

Happy reading of such wonderful writing, Michelle xxxx

Nichole said...

Happy Thorsday!