A killer has an axe to grind in this classic whodunit from the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Circular Staircase and mystery-writing pioneer. 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.
About the author
Mary Roberts Rinehart (1876–1958) was one of the United States’s most popular early mystery authors. Born in Pittsburgh to a clerk at a sewing machine agency, Rinehart trained as a nurse and married a doctor after her graduation from nursing school. She wrote fiction in her spare time until a stock market crash sent her and her young husband into debt, forcing her to lean on her writing to pay the bills. Her first two novels, The Circular Staircase (1908) and The Man in Lower Ten (1909), established her as a bright young talent, and it wasn’t long before she was one of the nation’s most popular mystery novelists. Among her dozens of novels are The Amazing Adventures of Letitia Carberry (1911), which began a six-book series, and The Bat (originally published in 1920 as a play), which was among the inspirations for Bob Kane’s Batman. Credited with inventing the phrase “The butler did it,” Rinehart is often called an American Agatha Christie, even though she began writing much earlier than Christie, and was much more popular during her heyday.
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