The summer occupants of "Sunnyside" find the dead body of Arnold Armstrong, the son of the owner, on the circular staircase. Following the murder a bank failure is announced. Around these two events is woven a plot of absorbing interest.
ave in me the instinct of the chase. Were I a man I should be a trapper of criminals, trailing them as relentlessly as no doubt my sheepskin ancestor did his wild boar. But being an unmarried woman, with the handicap of my sex, my first acquaintance with crime will probably be my last. Indeed, it came near enough to being my last acquaintance with anything.
The property was owned by Paul Armstrong, the president of the Traders' Bank, who at the time we took the house was in the west with his wife and daughter, and a Doctor Walker, the Armstrong family physician. Halsey knew Louise Armstrong,--had been rather attentive to her the winter before, but as Halsey was always attentive to somebody, I had not thought of it seriously, although she was a charming girl. I knew of Mr. Armstrong only through his connection with the bank, where the children's money was largely invested, and through an ugly story about the son, Arnold Armstrong, who was reported to have forged his father's name, for a considerable amo
A typically engrossing Rinehart: Strong female character, convoluted mystery, lots of foreshadowing. Avid mystery readers may guess at least part of the solution before it ends, and a few of the plot elements today seem hackneyed, but the characterization and atmospherics make up for the predictability.
The narrator, Rachel Inness, a well-to-do 50- or 60-something spinster, with her adult niece and nephew and personal maid, Liddy, rents a large house for the summer. Soon they begin to hear strange bumps in the night. Then a man is shot at the foot of the house's circular staircase. He turns out to be the unpleasant and estranged son of the home's owners, and when it becomes apparrent that her neice and nephew knew him, Rachel is left wondering whether one of them is the murderer, while Liddy is sure the house is haunted.
I believe this was written for the author's son's new publishing firm back in the early 1900's. There is some humor in it, the mystery is indeed rather Hardy-Boys-like; I think the atmosphere is the big thing. Rinehart was later satirized by Ogden Nash as the writer of "Had I but known" stories: "I wouldn't have bought it had I but known/It was filled with "had I but knowns."
Skip the librivox audiobook; at least one of the narrators, along about the 16th and some of the following chapters, is very hard to follow. Her first language does not uses articles as English does; for example, she says, "Chapter Sixteen, Circular Staircase," and otherwise leaves out all the "the's." Her words are audible, her tone agreeable, but many many words are just not intelligible--including part of her name.
I don't mean to sound negative, but honestly it was a cheap Hardy Boy quality mystery. Seriously, there was a sliding mantal that opens when you touched a knob in a wooden panel. Plus, it dragged on forever. Don't waste your time, unless you want a light read with a predictable plot.
This has been a great read - lots of action, lots of guessing what's going on. Couldn't put it down. All in all it comes highly recommended.
too good righ tmixture of suspense and horror with lashings of comedy too
i LOVED this book! i finished it in a day and 1/2 and would love to read more of her books asap! VERY suspensful right up until the very end! loved it!
There is no Cornelia Van Gorder in this story either. It's the story of Rachel Innes and her niece and nephew who take a summer house in the country where all kinds of mysterious things happen.
I really enjoyed this story. I keeps you guessing!! I think it is one of the best of Rinehart's I have read.