The Breaking Point (Mary Roberts Rinehart, 1920)

Ten years ago, Jud Clark disappeared after the murder of Howard Lucas. Lucas was married to Beverly Carlysle, a famous actress, and it was widely suspected she and Clark were having an affair. Clark, almost black-out drunk, stumbled into a raging blizzard and is thought to have died somewhere in the mountains of Wyoming.

Dick Livingstone, nephew of David Livingstone, is a young doctor in the small town of Haverly, Pennsylvania. He wants to marry Elizabeth Wheeler, but first he has to clear up some questions about his past. He has amnesia and doesn’t remember anything longer ago than ten years.

No inscriptions, but the start of chapter 19 is dogeared.

Blue Bonnet in Boston (Caroline E. Jacobs and Lela H. Richards, 1914)

Elizabeth “Blue Bonnet” Ashe is an orphan from Texas with a considerable inheritance. She’s sixteen (going on seventeen, she would tell you) and has just arrived in Boston to attend a prestigious boarding school. She makes new friends and they get into various adventures and scrapes. That’s about it.

Part of a series of Blue Bonnet books, evidently, but it’s the only one I have. This book ends with a bit of a question as to whether Blue Bonnet will go back to her Texas ranch or stay in New England to attend college.

Inscriptions: Withdrawn from the Waltham, Mass. Public Library.

The Case of the Counterfeit Eye (Erle Stanley Gardner, 1935)

A man is found dead, clutching a glass eye. His wife had a son from a previous relationship with a man who, as it should happen, only has one eye. Perhaps related are a boy and his unknown accomplice, who had been embezzling thousands of dollars from the dead man and had just gotten caught. The only eye witness to one-eyed murder was the son’s new secret wife, who has skipped town for reasons of her own. Perry Mason, celebrated lawyer, is employed variously by pretty much every major character to see that the innocent go unpunished.

No inscriptions.

The Door (Mary Roberts Rinehart, 1930)

The family nurse is found stabbed to death just after one of the disinherited branch was gifted a sword-cane. Things looks bad for him — bad as in he’s going to the electric chair — but while both he and a member of the bequeathed branch know who actually did it, neither one of them will breathe a word.

This is more of a whodunit than the typical Rinehart mystery. It’s a fairly limited number of characters, several of them are possible suspects, a few more possible than others (indeed, Mary, the main character, makes a list towards the end of everyone involved, ranking them by how likely they are to be the murderer). It does have other Rinehart hallmarks: like every family that describes itself as being an open book, they would all go to their graves before even hinting at family secrets; and the wealthy not quite realizing that their servants are people and that they have families and secrets of their own.

As for the solution, what cliche is Rinehart remembered for today? The Inspector never actually says “The butler did it!” as the myth goes, but, well, the butler did it!

No inscriptions.