The Circular Staircase
The first novel by Mary Roberts Rinehart, America’s queen of crimeThis 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.So says Rachel Innes, the spinster in question and one of the most remarkable heroines in American crime fiction. With the irresistible encouragement of her niece Gertrude and nephew Halsey, whom she raised after her brother’s death, Rachel ignores her better judgment and rents Sunnyside, a sprawling Elizabethan mansion owned by a bank president, for the summer.The first night passes peacefully. In the morning, the entire staff quits. Late the third night, a sinister figure lurks outside the patio window and Rachel hears a heavy crash on the circular staircase at the east end of the house. The fourth night brings a dead body.From there, things only get worse. The dead man turns out to be Arnold Armstrong, ne’er-do-well son of the owner of Sunnyside. Aunt Rachel has never seen him before, but Gertrude and Halsey knew him all too well. When the investigating detective directs his attention to her niece and nephew, Aunt Rachel decides to solve the murder herself—and walks straight into a web of deceit and treachery so intricate she might never find her way out.This ebook features a new introduction by Otto Penzler and has been professionally proofread to ensure accuracy and readability on all devices.
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