Elizabeth Bell runs a quiet household, with no family and no more than the usual number of servants. She passes her time thinking about crime and working on her biography of a relative. When a young cousin comes to stay, life in the house becomes uncharacteristically lively. First, cousin Judy burns a hole in Miss Bell’s desk. Next, they spy a burglar on the staircase—a shadowy figure who vanishes without a trace. And finally, Sarah, the nurse, takes the dogs for a walk and never returns.
She is found savagely murdered, and she will not be the last to die. At first, Miss Bell stays calm, but when the police determine that the killer was one of her household, she begins to panic. If one of her servants is the killer, what is an old woman to do?
As far as Carol Spencer is concerned, the war has spoiled everything. She and Don had been engaged for years and were on the verge of marriage when he was shot down in the South Pacific, leaving Carol on the verge of spinsterhood at twenty-four. She wants to take some kind of job in the war effort, but her invalid mother demands that Carol accompany her to the family’s summer home in Maine. But when they arrive at the faded mansion, they find it completely locked up. The servants are gone, the lights are dark—and there is a body in the closet.
There is a killer on the grounds of the abandoned Spencer estate, and the police believe it is Carol. As war rages across the seas, Carol Spencer fights a private battle of her own—to prove her own innocence, and to save her mother’s life.
Crescent Place was once a peaceful country green surrounded by five tasteful suburban houses and populated by polite, responsible citizens. But as the city enveloped it, the residents built a gate to keep the world out. With each passing year, the subdivision grew stranger and stranger—until it began to look like a time capsule of the 1890s. In these houses are a husband and wife who fight constantly, and another couple who hasn’t spoken to each other in two decades. There is a widow in permanent mourning and a daughter whom the newspapers call psychotic. And there is a bedridden old woman who is about to be killed with an axe.
When her murder shatters the quiet of the little enclave, the tabloids delight in trumpeting the neighborhood’s peculiarities. But as the search for the killer intensifies, the area’s strangest secrets have yet to be revealed.
In an elaborate house known as the Cloisters, Maud Wainwright rules supreme. The queen of society in the small town of Beverly, she has a table long enough to seat one hundred, and she keeps an iron grip on the guest list. Her right-hand woman is Pat Abbott, a local girl who is beautiful, innocent, and kind. Pat has no idea how cutthroat high society can be, but she’s about to get a deadly first lesson.
Pat has fallen head over heels in love with Maud’s son, Tony, a clever young rake with a single flaw: his vicious, gold-digging wife. At the same time that she is dangerously infatuated with a married man, Pat’s world is turned upside down by a series of attacks on the estate—and a truly shocking murder. To save Tony and Maud, Pat must find the killer. But the list of suspects is as long as one of Maud’s guest lists: When a woman has room at her table for one hundred friends, she’ll have more than her share of enemies.
“Anyone who aspires to become a writer,” said the New York Times, “could not do better than to study carefully the methods of Mary Roberts Rinehart.” The Great Mistake is a classic example of the golden age murder mystery at its best.
In the title tale of this collection by Mary Roberts Rinehart, after a long, chaotic life, Tish Carberry retires to her apartment, hoping for a bit of peace and quiet. But why, her friends wonder, does it sound like someone’s practicing riflery in her living room? No one would be surprised if Tish had converted her parlor into a shooting gallery, but her friends suspect something far more sinister: She may be playing golf. Tish took an interest in the game last summer when she met a befuddled young man whose beloved was too preoccupied with the sport to even glance in his direction. Soon afterward, a mysterious old woman appeared to challenge the girl—and since then, Tish has never been quite the same.
Here are five of Rinehart’s famous Tish stories—rollicking tales of madcap humor starring one of the most fascinating older women in literary history.
Mary Roberts Rinehart
Table Of Contents
The After House
THE AMAZING INTERLUDE
BAB: A SUB-DEB
THE BREAKING POINT
THE CASE of JENNIE BRICE
THE CIRCULAR STAIRCASE
KINGS, QUEENS AND PAWNS
LONG LIVE THE KING
THE MAN IN LOWER TEN
A POOR WISE MAN
THE STREET OF SEVEN STARS
WHEN A MAN MARRIES
WHERE THERE'S A WILL
Though he likes to joke about the spirit world, William Porter does not really believe in ghosts. As a professor, he cannot afford to take seriously that which goes bump in the night. But his wife, Jane, is prone to visions, like the one she had last summer about William’s uncle Horace lying dead on the floor—a dream that came just hours before they got the news that the old man had passed away.
A year later, William plans to spend the summer at his recently inherited beachfront property with Jane, but a feeling of psychic dread gives her hesitation, and William will later regret convincing her to go. The house is musty, eerie, and littered with supernatural portents—most chillingly, the faint red light that glows in the wee hours. If they don’t escape soon, William and his wife may be visiting the spirit world themselves.
The house called Sunset has been Marcia’s summer home for her entire life. Both of her parents died there, and she and her brother spent their youth exploring its rambling hallways and seaside grounds. They love the old house, but Marcia’s sister-in-law has never taken to it. Juliette loathes the sea, and soon comes to loathe her husband, as well. After they divorce, Juliette pays a final visit to Sunset, demanding alimony. She is there for a few tense days before she disappears. It takes them a week to find her body.
The peace at Sunset has been shattered, and Marcia must work quickly to keep her beloved childhood home from being forever spoiled. Somewhere in the creaky old mansion, a murderer lurks. Will Marcia be accused of the crime? Or will she be the next victim?
The Birches was one of the grand mansions of the 1920s, with a ballroom, tennis courts, and, of course, a swimming pool. But after the crash of ’29, when Lois and Judith’s father killed himself to escape his debts, the family turned the summer home into a fulltime retreat from the world. Decades later, Judith is the queen of New York society, a fast-living beauty whose nerves are beginning to fray, while Lois still lives in the dilapidated old mansion, writing mystery novels to pay the bills. She is about to encounter a mystery of her own.
To stave off a nervous breakdown, Judith moves in with her kid sister. Terrified of an unnamed threat, she nails her windows shut and locks the door. Soon, a woman is found dead in the pool—a stranger who bears a shocking resemblance to Judith. In a family with a history of tragedy, a chilling new chapter is about to be written.
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.
When her husband demands a divorce, a young wife heads to Reno alone, leaving the baby with her husband and his new beloved, betting that a week trapped between his child and his mistress will make her hubby yearn for her return. By the sea, a hairdresser gets into mischief over a star sports fisherman. And in a city threatened by conflict, a World War I veteran tries to make himself useful by enforcing the blackout.
These are just a few of the scenes from the short fiction of Mary Roberts Rinehart, who in these nine brief tales shows why she was one of the nation’s most popular authors for so many decades. Though famous as a mystery writer, Rinehart is just as much at home writing drama, or taking a witty look at the lighter side of law and order. More than a century since she published her first story, Rinehart’s prose remains as sharp as an assassin’s blade.
A naive observer might not immediately see a connection between the newspaper accounts of a man found naked on a church steeple, a constable attacked from the sky, and a grocer assaulted by “balloon bandits.” But these stories are tied together by a single word: Tish, the nutty maid who has never let old age get in the way of a good time.
When her nephew announces a trip to England to write about the Coronation, Tish demands to come along. Fearing a diplomatic incident, her nephew refuses, but Tish resolves to find another way. It’s not long before she takes to the air—and the sky will never be the same.
In these stories, Tish and her friends advise young lovers on bad haircuts, contend with fish in Florida and bears in the far west, and narrowly avoid confrontation with the waxworks at Madame Tussaud’s. With her unwavering, destructive enthusiasm, this sprightly old spinster gives new meaning to the phrase “young at heart.”
From the outside, it seems like the three women of the Bayne house are frozen in time. There is Mrs. Bayne, an aging widow obsessed with propriety; her sister, Margaret, a spinster whose desperate loneliness is eating her from the inside out; and young Holly, a beautiful creature with a vibrancy that fades a little each day. Her only hope is Furness Brooks, a playboy with an idea that he might like to marry Holly, but each day that he doesn’t propose, she becomes more frightened that she will die an old maid.
Into this steps Howard Warrington, a bond salesman who answers an advertisement to rent the Baynes’ extra room. He finds the house to be full of old secrets and quiet grudges, and he soon grows to hate his life there. But when Margaret attempts to kill herself, he realizes how dark life is for the women Bayne—and how difficult it might be for him to escape.
A happy bachelor in Washington, DC, Lawrence “Lollie” Blakeley is just the right age to dance with the grown-up little sisters of the girls he used to know. He is without sentiment—so he claims—but is ruled and frequently routed by his elderly housekeeper. All he really wants is to relax with a round of golf and a trip out on the yacht.
But when his law partner asks him to deliver important legal documents to a client in Pittsburgh, Lollie finds his cheerful life tremendously disturbed. In the course of one overnight trip, he ends up in the wrong berth, falls in love, and is accused of murder.
The Man in Lower Ten was the first detective novel to appear on national bestseller lists and is just as deliciously thrilling today as when it was published more than a century ago.
This ebook features a new introduction by Otto Penzler and has been professionally proofread to ensure accuracy and readability on all devices.
For months, the city has lived in fear of the Bat. A master criminal hindered by neither scruple nor fear, he has stolen over one million dollars and left at least six men dead. The police are helpless, the newspapers know nothing—even the key figures of the city’s underworld have no clue as to the identity of the Bat. He is a living embodiment of death itself, and he is coming to the countryside.
There, he will encounter the only person who can stop him: adventurous sixty-five-year-old spinster Cornelia Van Gorder. Last in a long line of New York society royalty, Cornelia has found old age to be a bore, and is hungry for a bit of adventure. She’s going to find it—in a lonely old country house where every shadow could be the Bat.
An elderly couple sits on a park bench, murmuring compliments to each other, and passing gentle judgment on the crowds that pass them by. They are alone—no children, no friends, nothing but their memories to keep them company. Are they happy? Or is true love no longer enough to sustain them?
While this couple sits on the bench, remembering faded passions, young people are falling in love for the first time. Middle-aged husbands and wives are taking second honeymoons, trying to recapture something that now seems like it may never have been real to begin with. Lovers are everywhere—happy and sad, jealous and fervent—and no one knows them better than Mary Roberts Rinehart. In this haunting collection, she shows us love won and lost, its ends and its beginnings, always different, and always a little bit the same.
An internationally renowned writer of mystery fiction, Mary Roberts Rinehart knows her way around an exotic setting. When faced with the Pyramids, the Nile, and the sprawling Egyptian desert in her own life, she does not fall in with the crowd of tourists waiting in line at the tombs of the Pharaohs. Instead, she hikes up her skirt, plants her pumps in the sand, and hops on a camel. She has but one question: Where am I supposed to sit?
On a hundred-mile expedition into the Egyptian desert, Rinehart does her best to master the herky-jerk of this desert beast. But traveling with an entourage of well-mannered people, she finds that desert living is not completely stripped of the comforts of home. Upon returning to the United States, Rinehart makes an excursion out west, which, she finds, is where the true adventure begins.
Clarke Wellington supposes it’s time he murdered his wife. Dolly isn’t a promiscuous woman, and she isn’t violent, but she is stingy, petty, and cruel, and she runs her household with a tyranny that has turned her husband into a mouse and her children into frightened little automatons. Of course, it’s easy to make this kind of decision, but much harder to follow through. When a man hasn’t stood up for himself in years, how can he possibly learn to kill?
“The Man Who Killed His Wife” is just one in this sterling collection of short stories by a master of the classic mystery novel. Rinehart tells her tales one couple at a time, from the Wellingtons to the Bryces to the Chisholms. In some of their houses is physical violence, and in some, the torment is purely emotional. Not until death will these happy couples part, but that day is coming sooner than some of them think.
On a transatlantic voyage, a man fills with rage as his wife fusses over her makeup, filling their cramped cabin with powders, oils, and discarded clothes. It would be fine if he could open the porthole, but the porter has ordered it shut—lest a German submarine spot the light.
Back in America, an old man with failing health stares out his window and worries about the world. And the wife of a serial philanderer realizes, to her surprise, that she has finally grown tired of her husband’s humiliating displays.
These are the people of Mary Roberts Rinehart’s short fiction. Young and old, beautiful and ugly, joyous and downtrodden—they are ordinary people, consumed with the pains and privations of everyday life. Created with Rinehart’s impeccably light touch, they are more than characters on a page—they are a mirror in which we may recognize ourselves.
Jennie Brice was a mediocre young actress, but on a dank and dangerous night with floodwaters rising, she managed a remarkable disappearing act. Her husband said she'd left him, but her landlady suspected something darker.
The police had all the evidence of foul play-blood stains, a knife, Jennie's own fur coat-but Jennie herself was missing. The question was: Had the lady performed a theatrical miracle? Or had someone else performed a very ingenious murder?
With illustrations by Earl Mayan, this edition from Blackbird Books brings new life to bestselling novelist Mary Roberts Rinehart's icy tale of romance and suspense.
Mary Roberts Rinehart was a prolific writer that is often referred to as the American Agatha Christie. Rinehart's mystery novels are still treasured by millions of readers today and she is the source of the famous phrase "The butler did it." Rinehart's most famous books include The Circular Staircase, The Bat, The Case of Jennie Brice, and The Man in Lower Ten. This collection includes the following:
The Man in the Lower Ten
The Circular Staircase
The Window at the White Cat
When a Man Marries
Where There’s a Will
The Case of Jennie Brice
The Street of Seven Stars
The After House
Bab: A Sub-Deb
Long Live the King!
The Amazing Interlude
A Poor Wise Man
The Breaking Point
The Bat – co-written by Avery Hopwood
Tish: The Chronicle of Her Escapades and Excursions
Affinities, and Other Stories
Kings, Queens and Pawns
Through Glacier Park
The state has accused beautiful young Elinor Norton of murder, and she refuses to mount a defense. Guilt is written all over her elegant features, but her childhood best friend refuses to believe it when Elinor confesses to the crime.
Forced into a dull marriage against her will, Elinor is just beginning to adjust to life with Lloyd when she meets the man who will tear her world apart. Blair Leighton is her husband’s best friend and was his companion in the war, and he has a charm that makes Elinor quiver from the inside out. At first, her husband is oblivious to this illicit attraction, but when the two men go into business together, the tension threatens to rip the triangle apart. Soon, Elinor is forced to make a chilling decision. One of these men must die—but which?
These well-written novels, which combine mystery and adventure, demonstrate Rinehart's tremendously vivid powers as a storyteller. These mysteries will leave you eager to read the other volumes in this series.
These well-written stories, which combine mystery and adventure, demonstrate Rinehart's tremendously vivid powers as a storyteller. These mysteries will leave you eager to read the other volumes in this series.
The Confession, published in 1917, is a classic mystery novel that is full of suspense throughout.A table of contents is included.