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The Circular Staircase

Mary Roberts Rinehart

Book Overview: 

Mary Roberts Rinehart was a prolific American writer of popular mysteries. The Circular Staircase includes all the elements of the classic whodunit – mysterious events, ghostly apparitions, things that go bump in the night and murder.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .g in the shadow beside the drive, with his back to me, watching the lighted windows.

"What the hell!" he ejaculated furiously, and turned around. When he saw me, however, he did not wait for any retort on my part. He faded away—this is not slang; he did—he absolutely disappeared in the dusk without my getting more than a glimpse of his face. I had a vague impression of unfamiliar features and of a sort of cap with a visor. Then he was gone.

I went to the lodge and rapped. It required two or three poundings to bring Thomas to the door, and he opened it only an inch or so.

"Where is Warner?" I asked.

"I—I think he's in bed, ma'm."

"Get him up," I said, "and for goodness' sake open the door, Thomas. I'll wait for Warner."

"It's kind o' close in here, ma'm," he said, obeying gingerly, and disclosing a cool and comfortable looking interior. "Perhaps you'd keer to set on the po. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Fun to read with lots of details and possible suspects. I enjoyed just going with the flow of the story, making a few guesses along the way (one of which turned out to be very true). A bit more sprightly than some of Dame Agatha's, it seemed to me. Not sure what age Aunt Rachel is meant to be (sp...more

Published in 1908, The Circular Staircase won't be what you expect: a hyperventilated Edwardian piece, loaded with implausible plot and purple prose. Our heroine, the middle-aged Rachel Innes, proves caustic, intelligent and quite humorous from the very start. Her well-meaning quarrels with her foolish ma...more

I found this book surprisingly enjoyable. The plot was full of unexpected twists and turns that didn't make a lot of sense until the end. The fact that it was written in 1908 both added to and detracted from its charm. The descriptions of the transportation and social conventions of the day were...more

‘The Circular Staircase’ is a terrific mystery! Despite having the constant cliffhanger chapters of a serial as well as the never-ending crises (the story was first published in 1907 in magazine installments), the story is truly engrossing, drawing one into reading a long time at night. At least,...more

Rating: 3.75* of five

The Publisher Says: The Circular Staircase 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.../>The

3.5★

I normally struggle with books written this early in the twentieth century, but at the start of this mystery novel I was really engaged. & the character of amateur sleuth Rachel Innes kept me entertained until the end. Brave, feisty & witty. The relationship with her devot...more

I really enjoyed this book! My edition has a cover that reminds me of the old Nancy Drew mysteries that I loved as a kid (The Circular Staircase), and I though...more

Written in 1908 this is an early mystery, written by Mary Roberts Rinehart (1876- 1958), a prolific American author. The story revolves around Rachel Innes, who rents a house in the country, for her and her two adult wards – Halsey and Gertrude. It soon becomes clear that Rachel (or ‘Aunt Ray’) i...more

1908, Rinehart's second novel. Miss Rachel Innes has an eventful "summer vacation" in the country... Deservedly a classic, although the plot is extremely "dated" now. Three stars for plot and most characters, four stars for Miss Rachel and "atmosphere", which is still quite effective; recommended...more

When I was in junior high school, I worked in a used book store, one of those shady businesses, usually located in a seedy part of town, where a patron could bring in two books and get credit for the purchase of one. The vast majority of our books were brought in by lonely housewives and unmarrie...more

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