Sunday, 11 September 2011
The Man in Lower Ten by Mary Roberts Rinehart
I picked it up because it would fit into the three reading challenges I have joined this month. I wanted a mystery or suspense book, for mystery and suspense 2011 reading challenge with number in the title for what's in a name challenge, written by a women writer published before 1960s for the golden age girls level of Vintage mystery reading challenge. Luckily I found a free ebook in Gutenberg satisfying all these requirement.
This is my first Rinehart book and also Rinehart's first book published in 1906. My first impression on finishing the book was Confusion. So how many women got into the train? As the Narrator Lawerence Blakeley's friend Mcknight says "three women already." And who was who? I had to reread the first three chapters again after finishing the book to make sense of it. Rinehart could have used nicknames (like Harlan Coben does) or more descriptions for readers to keep track of these women until their real identity is revealed. This confusion is done on purpose, to keep us in dark until "the finer details" are revealed. So it means we cannot play along in this whodunit. The story is interesting.
Lawrence Blakeley, attorney, is carrying valuable papers on a train journey. There is a mix up of berths, a murder, theft, amateur detective, romance and a train wreck all on a single night. Blakeley is suspected for murder. He has to prove his innocence. He goes on an adventure to find who killed whom? Who stole what? And who is who?
The train journey, the trapdoor part, and the Laurels adventure are very gripping. The story is funny. With many witty statements. Here is one
"Love is like the measles," he orated. "The older you get it, the worse the attack"
When the amateur detective is wounded, as it is dark and raining, he is not sure whether the moisture on his body is blood or water. Blakeley quips "Blood is thicker than water!"