The Circular Staircase

Cover image for


Published: 1908
Language: English
Wordcount: 69,589 / 198 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 66.7
LoC Category: PS
Downloads: 8,612 5928

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.

Show Excerpt

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


Average Rating of 3.2 from 9 reviews: ****

the hands belong to mavis mlorawe, searching for a little automatic gun, which subsequently can't save her life. quite fittingly, in an apartment in which everything seems to bear her monogram, she is being strangled to death with a monogrammed scarf thus setting off the plot of Black Angel (1946).

Leah A. Zeldes

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.

Claire Graham

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.

Diane Seddon

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.

(Promote your book here)

Featured Books

Cover image for The Circular Staircase by Mary Roberts Rinehart - Free eBook


True Alpha 1
Alisa Woods

Shifters in Seattle Desired (True Alpha 1) Ne... Read more

Cover image for The Circular Staircase by Mary Roberts Rinehart - Free eBook

Open Minds

Mindjack Saga Book 1
Susan Kaye Quinn

When everyone reads minds, a secret is a danger... Read more

Cover image for The Circular Staircase by Mary Roberts Rinehart - Free eBook

Rise of The Iron Eagle

The Iron Eagle Series Book 1
Roy A. Teel Jr.

Is The Iron Eagle a psychotic serial killer?Read more

Cover image for The Circular Staircase by Mary Roberts Rinehart - Free eBook

XGeneration 1

You Don't Know Me (XGeneration Series)
Brad Magnarella

In the fall of 1984, Cold War tensions between... Read more

Cover image for The Circular Staircase by Mary Roberts Rinehart - Free eBook

Drive, Ride, Repeat

The Mostly-True Account of a Cross-Country Car and Bicycle Adventure
Al Macy

Author Al Macy is a character and a tightwad wi... Read more

Cover image for The Circular Staircase by Mary Roberts Rinehart - Free eBook

I Bring the Fire

Part I: Wolves (A Loki Story)
C. Gockel

In the middle of America, Amy Lewis is on her way... Read more

login | register

User ID


reset password

Help ManyBooks by sharing this page!

See it as donating a moment of your social media time, every little thing helps us improve and stay online.

Popular in This Genre

The list of books below is based on the weekly downloads by our users regardless of eReader device or file format.

The Art of War
by Sun Tzu
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
by Arthur Conan Doyle
The Communist Manifesto
by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
The Secret Adversary
by Agatha Christie
Romeo and Juliet
by William Shakespeare
Alice in Wonderland
by Lewis Carroll
Moby Dick
by Herman Melville
Crime and Punishment
by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Bhagavad-Gita
by Anonymous

See more popular titles from this genre.