cover image The Wall

The Wall

Mary Roberts Rinehart. Penzler, $25.95 (312p) ISBN 978-1-61316-211-8

This cleverly constructed mystery from Rinehart (1876–1958) is as fresh and suspenseful as when it was first published in 1938. Marcia Lloyd is spending the summer at Sunset House, her family home on an island off the New England coast. With her parents dead and her brother, Arthur, living in New York with a family of his own, Marcia is alone in the house, save for four faithful retainers, some of whom have served the Lloyd family for decades. Tensions explode with the unannounced arrival of Juliette Ransom, Arthur’s rapacious ex-wife, who tells Marcia that Arthur must sell Sunset to pay her a lump sum in lieu of her exorbitant monthly alimony. During her marriage to Arthur, Juliette often visited the island, where she cut a wide swath through its male population. When she’s found murdered, suspects abound. The local district attorney focuses on Arthur as the guilty party, but Sheriff Russell Shand has other ideas, and he and Marcia work together to uncover the truth. Rinehart does a fine job balancing the various plotlines, false trails, and subtle clues. This entry in the American Mystery Classics series is essential reading for genre fans. (May)