Lover of the Fancy

Early C20th American culture and dissent

The Haunted Lady
Mary Roberts Rinehart

£8.99

Someone’s trying to kill the head of the Fairbanks estate, and only her nurse can protect her… The arsenic in her sugar bowl was wealthy widow Eliza Fairbanks’ first clue that somebody wanted her dead. The nightly plagues of bats, birds, and rats unleashed in her bedroom were the second indication, an obvious attempt to scare the life out of the delicate dowager. So instead of calling the exterminator, Eliza calls the cops, who send Hilda Adams – “Miss Pinkerton” to the folks at the bureau – to go undercover and investigate. Hilda Adams is a nurse, not a detective – at least, not technically speaking. But then, nurses do have the opportunity to see things that the police can’t, and to witness the inner workings of a household when the authorities aren’t around.

From the moment Adams arrives at the Fairbanks mansion, confronted by a swarm of shady and oddball relatives, many of whom seem desperate for their inheritance, it’s clear that something unseemly is at work in the estate. But not even she is prepared for the web of intrigue that awaits her therein. Reissued for the first time in over twenty years, and featuring one of Mary Roberts Rinehart’s only series characters, The Haunted Lady is the thrilling follow-up to Miss Pinkerton, although the books can be read in any order.

Paperback, 288pp
Penzler Publishers, 2021 (1942)
ISBN 9781613161609

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.