Auteur Mary Roberts Rinehart (1876-1958) was the most beloved and best-selling mystery writer in America in the first half of the ...
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Mary Roberts Rinehart (1876-1958) was the most beloved and best-selling mystery writer in America in the first half of the twentieth century. Born in Pittsburgh to the owner of a sewing machine factory, she wrote fiction in her spare time until a stock market crash sent her and her 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 a regular on bestseller lists.Among her dozens of novels were The Amazing Adventures of Letitia Carberry (1911) and The Bat (1932), which was among the inspirations for Bob Kane's Batman. Today, Rinehart is often called an American Agatha Christie, even though she was much more popular than Christie during her heyday.
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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.
Atmospheric writing, period detail, and characters caught in an intriguing murder plot make this Golden Age mystery one of Rinehart's best, exemplifying why she's known to her fans as "the American Agatha Christie."