Mary Roberts Rinehart can be counted on for mysteries with a cast of people with motive for murder and a maze of clues. Her novel The Door is in the classic “the butler did it” tradition, complete with a butler. Readers get all the clues they need to solve the murder, with enough red herrings to keep them from getting it right.
Miss Bell, a well-to-do, older woman, tells of the investigation into the disappearance and murder of Sarah Gittings, a private nurse who had worked for the whole Bell family as needed for years.
Suspicion falls on Jim Blake, Miss Bell’s cousin. The DA puts together a solid case, but something about it doesn’t feel right to the toothpick-chewing Inspector Harrison. The family rallies around Jim, doing some sleuthing on their own. Miss Bell helps by destroying evidence that would have bolstered Jim’s defense.
At the last minute, Rinehart pulls the threads together to finger the real murderer.
Although The Door is definitely a Roaring Twenties period piece, it remains solidly entertaining today.
I was disappointed Miss Bell and the Inspector didn’t pair off, but perhaps Rinehart felt the Inspector’s habit of dropping chewed toothpicks would lead to another murder.
by Mary Roberts Rinehart
Farrar & Rinehart, 1930
1930 bestseller # 6
My grade: B
© 2010 Linda Gorton Aragoni