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Mary Robert Rinehart unravels a story of a summerhouse rental gone dreadfully wrong in the popular 1908 thriller The Circular Staircase. With page-turning suspense, the tart-tongued Rachel Innes narrates the ghostly noises, suspicious deaths, troubling disappearances, mysterious origins, midnight prowlers, and stolen fortunes in this best-selling mystery.
When The Circular Staircase appeared, Rinehart's humorous, modern take on the gothic was praised as a new style of mystery writing. Today, it is prominently included in lists of milestones in detective fiction. Together with Avery Hopwood, Rinehart recast part of the novel's plot for their smash-hit 1920 Broadway play The Bat, which was immortalized on the silver screen and influenced the genesis of comic-strip hero Batman.