Friday, December 23, 2011

Review: The Circular Staircase by Mary Roberts Rinehart

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What happens when you take too long finishing a book? You end up butchering it. It happened with Mary Roberts Rinehart's The Circular Staircase. I read Yvette's review of the book sometime back in March. Since I had wanted to read a Rinehart for long and since Yvette was all praise for it, I thought I'd begin with it. So downloaded it from and read it, left it, left it. This is no way to read any book, let alone a wonder I didn't really like it.

The story is of a middle-aged woman, Rachel Innes, who rents a house during summer and moves in it with her nephew, niece, and a maid. Soon mysterious things start happening. There are noises in the night, intruders in the house, shootings and killings... And on top of it, Rachel has an uncomfortable suspicion that her wards are not being completely honest with her. It'd have made for a top-notch mystery but somehow or the other, I failed to get involved with the book. Rachel, despite her tartar tongue and racial prejudices, is still likable, I didn't like her nephew Halsey and niece Gertrude. And Halsey's beloved, Louise (I believe) could put Lydia Languish to shame!

I'll be reading Rinehart again but not in this manner.

For Yvettte's excellent review of the book, go here:

First Line: This is the story of how a middle-aged spinster lost her mind, deserted her domestic gods in the city, took a furnished house for the summer out of town, and found herself involved in one of those mysterious crimes that keep our newspapers and detective agencies happy and prosperous.

Title: The Circular Staircase

Author: Mary Roberts Rinehart

First Published: 1908


Book(s) with similar theme(s):

Some Must Watch by Ethel Lina White


The book is in the public domain and can be downloaded from various sites. I downloaded it from


Submitted for the following challenges:


Mystery and Suspense

Vintage Mystery


  1. It is difficult to like books that you start and stop on several times. I'd think especially mysteries. I haven't read this one yet by Rinehart, but the ones I've tried have been very good.

  2. True Bev. But for some reason or the other, this failed to excite me otherwise would have read it at one go. I'll definitely be reading more of Rinehart though.

  3. It's possible, Neer, that you just weren't in the right mood. Sometimes that happens with certain sorts of books. But I'm glad you're not giving up on Rinehart completely.

    Give her another chance. Try THE EPISODE OF THE WANDERING KNIFE or THE YELLOW ROOM. :)

    I'll keep my fingers crossed.

  4. Yvette I'll definitely be reading more of her and hopefully in a better frame of mind :) As it is, The Yellow Room has long been on my wishlist.