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It is to the credit of author Mary Roberts Rinehart that calling her "the American Agatha Christie" sells her short. Rinehart's mysteries spawned generations of imitators and listeners of The Circular Staircase will see the beginnings of tropes - the scary rented house, the had-I-but-known style of suspense writing - that will crop up in mystery stories for years. Not to mention Rachel Innes, the brusque, unassuming spinster whose sleuthing presages such iconic middle-aged gumshoes as Columbo and Jessica Fletcher. Narrator Rebecca Burns doesn't chew the scenery, but lets the suspense in this classic tale of murder and intrigue build with slow and inexorable surety.
This is perhaps Mary Roberts Rinehart's most famous story. Wealthy spinster Rachel Innes is persuaded by her niece and nephew, Gertrude and Halsey, to take a house in the country for the summer. Rachel is unaware that the house holds a secret, and soon unexplained happenings and murder follow. The Circular Staircase combines bone-chilling suspense and romance to produce an entertaining mystery.
(P)2006 Tantor Media Inc.
"[Rinehart] established herself as a leading author of mystery stories [with] The Circular Staircase." (The Concise Oxford Companion to American Literature)
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