The Man in Lower Ten

by Mary Roberts Rinehart

 

I’ve compared Rinehart to Agatha Christie in previous reviews of her books. Rinehart was essentially America’s answer to the British crime novelist, but who employed a more light-hearted ambiance. Her characters, befitting early-20th-century, upstart America, are far removed from the stuffy snobs who populate most Christie stories.

But in reading Rinehart’s 1909 novel (her second, after The Circular Staircase), The Man in Lower Ten, I was put in mind of another Brit — Alfred Hitchcock. Rinehart’s plot involves romance, murder aboard a train, and police hunting an innocent man. Can anyone say, The 39 Steps? Or, The Lady Vanishes? *

I confess that Rinehart’s heavy use of century-old American colloquialisms and parlance often defeats me, but her jaunty tone and colorful characters override any linguistic obstacles.

 

* Rinehart’s book predates the written and film versions of The 39 Steps, The Lady Vanishes — and everything published by Christie.

 

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