Not to get ahead of myself, but I might actually finish all my books for this season’s challenge. I might even finish the bonus books as well! Last month I read three of my six mystery novels for Spring. A bit of mystery and intrigue was the perfect way to welcome the warm air and sunshine back into my life. Yes, murder and 70-degree temperatures really brighten my mood. My first batch here were all older and all written by women. They range in tone, mystery style, and types of characters.
First up for me was The Circular Staircase, which is the oldest novel on my list (1908) and also one of the funniest. Rachel Innes, an old spinster, plans to spend an extended vacation in the country with her niece and nephew, Gertrude and Halsey, in a lovely house they’ve rented in the country. The first night of her stay, she deals with a trespasser trying to break into the house and a strange noise that sounds like something large falling down a circular staircase at one end of the house. The next night there is an unexplained murder near the same stairs, and a body is discovered. This throws the family into a whirlwind of trouble. First Halsey is a suspect, then his friend that was visiting with them that evening, then almost everyone in the town! The pieces of the puzzle are so intricate and intertwined, that it was very hard for me to guess most of solution until rather close to the end of the book. There are several overlapping narratives at play and they just happened to coincide in a perfect storm. As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, she’s one of the first originators of the “if I had only known” style of mystery, and if Rachel had only known one or two pieces of this puzzle, she would have probably been able to solve it much quicker.