Lover of the Fancy

Early C20th American culture and dissent

Man in Lower Ten
Mary Roberts Rinehart

£4.99

Washington,DC-based attorney Lawrence Blakely has been asked by his partner to deliver some important documents to a client in Pittsburgh. In the course of his return trip, the occupant of the train berth opposite his – the lower ten, which Blakely was supposed to have taken – is savagely murdered. Was Blakely the intended victim, and did the crime have something to do with his briefcase full of vital evidence? When the murder weapon turns up underneath his pillow, Blakely becomes the prime suspect and is forced to stay one step ahead of the police in an increasingly deadly mystery.

Written by Mary Roberts Rinehart, “the American Agatha Christie,” this was the first detective novel to crack national bestseller lists. According to The New York Times, “[Rinehart’s] literary distinction lies in the combination of love, humor, and murder that she wove into her tales… She helped the mystery story grow up.” The Man in Lower Ten was Rinehart’s debut novel (although the second published), and it remains a thrilling tale of homicide, mayhem, and romance

Paperback, 176pp
Dover Publications, 2017 (1909)
ISBN 9780486814506

Biography

MARY ROBERTS-RINEHART (1876-1958) was the most beloved and best-selling mystery writer in America in the first half of the twentieth century. Born in Pittsburgh to the owner of a sewing machine factory, Rinehart trained as a nurse, and married a doctor four days after her graduation from medical school. She wrote fiction in her spare time, until a stock market crash sent the young couple into debt, forcing her to lean on her writing to pay the bills. Her first two novels, The Circular Staircase(1908) and The Man in Lower Ten (1909), established her as a bright young talent, and it wasn’t long before she was a regular on bestseller lists.

Among her dozens of novels were The Amazing Adventures of Letitia Carberry (1911), which began a six book series, and The Bat (1932), which was among the inspirations for Bob Kane’s Batman. Credited with inventing the phrase “The butler did it” – a phrase she never actually wrote – Rinehart is often called an American Agatha Christie, even though she began writing much earlier than Christie and was much more popular during her heyday.