Archive for April 29th, 2010


The Circular Staircase

April 29, 2010

I decided after my second Mary Roberts Rinehart book that I was a fan, and The Circular Staircase is, I think, my fifth. It might be the first one I read about, though, because Rinehart is remembered primarily as the originator of the Had-I-But-Known school of mystery fiction, and The Circular Staircase is the prime example.

Had-I-But-Known mysteries are the ones with first person narrators who are constantly saying things like “I would never have gone if I knew then what I know now,” and “this would prove to be important later” and other irritating things along the same lines — things that are apt to make readers who are caught up in the story…un-catch. Please, someone, give me a better way to phrase that. Anyway, it’s a style I wouldn’t want to encounter in the hands of any author with less of a sense of humor than Rinehart. She mostly makes it work, but I don’t think many others could. Read the rest of this entry ?