Fair Harbor (Joseph C. Lincoln, 1922)

Injured in a train accident, Captain Kendrick is laid up in Bayport, a small town in Cape Cod. While he recovers, he’s appointed “outside manager” of Fair Harbor, a home for the widows of sea captains. It was Lobelia Seymour’s house until she married Egbert Phillips and moved to Italy. She’s dead now and Egbert is back in town flat broke, having quite exhausted her considerable fortune. A big part of Kendrick’s job is to safeguard Elizabeth’s money from him. Elizabeth is the daughter of Fair Harbor’s matron, a southerner who imagines herself an aristocrat far above these yokel Yankees, but she’s really rather dumb and has fallen entirely under Egbert spell. After draining her of $2,000 of her $5,000 capital, Egbert skips town with a richer widow. Elizabeth, meanwhile, has fallen in love with Kendrick, and after he’s healthy enough to ship-out again, she ships-out with him.

Inscriptions: on the front flyleaf, “Everett, from Mother, Xmas 1927”.

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In the Fog (Richard Harding Davis, 1901)

Five men are at the Grill, the most exclusive club in England. One is a M.P. who supports a naval expansion bill. Another man — the one with the black pearl stud — does not. The vote is to be held today. The M.P.’s one weakness is the penny dreadful — the gorier the better. When reading one, he quite forgets everything else. He finishes his last book and is about out the door when the three other men start to tell a tale of their own.

Lord Chetney. thought lost in Africa, has just returned and resumed his affair with Russian princess Zichy. That isn’t great news for his younger brother Andrew, who now no longer stands to inherit and is massively in debt. Sears, an American naval attache, lost in the fog, stumbles into Zichy’s townhouse and finds both her and Chetney stabbed to death. Andrew is at once suspected, but the detective has his doubts. A search of the waste paper basket reveals a torn-up letter. Piecing it together reveals the name… Sears.

The M.P. is entranced. During the talk, Pearl Stud has been watching the lights in Parliament. When they finally go out, it’s revealed that the whole thing was fiction. In fact, Lord Chetney, the murdered man, was one of the story tellers. The M.P. has it over on Pearl Stud, though: the vote was already held earlier in the day — he was stalling for nothing.

No inscriptions.

The Cabin on the Prairie (C.H. Pearson, 1869)

Starts preachy and ends a Chick tract. Tom, the eldest son of a family of settlers on the frontier in Minnesota, wants to run away to some more civilized place with schools where he might get an education. That isn’t possible, though, because… because. Mother’s best argument seems to be that his clothes are crude homespun and everyone would laugh at him. A missionary arrives and begins tutoring Tom. Crops fails and they’re broke. Wildfire burns them out. Flood washes away their cabin. Indians attack, kill several, including Father. Destitute, Mother becomes a babysitter for the General’s children at the fort and Tom becomes a preacher.

Inscription: “Harold Libby, Xmas 1900” on the front flyleaf.

For Love of Sigrid (Effie Adelaide Rowlands, 1895)

Sigrid is pulled out of the orphanage convent she’s lived in her whole life to serve as a traveling companion to Lady Yelvertoun, who has been jumping about the world for more than two years now. That she hates Sigrid is plain but she also can’t be separated from her. Sir John first met her when they were in New England. Aboard the Columbia on their return to Old England, they meet again. John has become a friend of Hugh Gretton, an older gentleman of considerable wealth returning home to die on English soil. He keeps the severity of his condition from Millicent, his daughter, so as not to frighten her. At the sight of Sigrid and Yelvertoun, he suffers a severe stroke and dies. Millicent becomes John’s ward. John knows that he loves Sigrid, but Millicent is frail and delicate and — most importantly — accustomed to being indulged in all her whims. Right now, she want to marry John and he’s resigned to the fact.

Skipping to the end now because you’re only missing a lot of filler. Lady Yelvertoun was lawfully though secretly married to Hugh Huntingdon and bore a child. When the Earl of Yelvertoun became the most eligible bachelor in England, Yelvertoun trumped up charges against Hugh — sending him into self-imposed exile — and dumped the scarcely newborn baby at a convent. Sigrid, as she’s called, is Yelvertoun’s daughter. Millicent was not biologically related to Hugh Gretton, a.k.a. Hugh Huntingdon — she’s the orphaned daughter of his business partner. Never mind Millicent, though. Flighty and capricious, she breaks her engagement to elope with the present Earl of Yelvertoun. John and Sigrid are married.

Inscriptions: Stamped on the front end paper “Clinton, Maine”. Public library? School system? I don’t know — perhaps it was the town’s own personal copy.

Sad Cypress (Agatha Christie, 1939)

Elinor receives an anonymous letter warning her that Mary Gerrard is trying to usurp her place in Laura Welman’s household. Laura had always taken a strong interest in Mary, sending her the best schools and abroad for her education, and really treating her as if she were her own child. Now that he’s had a stroke and is bedridden, Mary is with Laura constantly.

When her aunt dies interstate, Elinor inherits the whole of the £200,000 estate. It had always been expected that she and her cousin Roddy would each be willed half of it and that it wouldn’t matter anyway because they intended to marry. Now that seems to be dashed as Roddy confesses he doesn’t love Elinor and won’t simply marry for money. He’s not sure if he loves Mary, but he thinks he might.

Mary is poisoned to death. Only three people could have done it — Elinor, Nurse Hopkins, or Mary herself — but the only one with a motive is Elinor. Laura Welman’s body is exhumed and it’s discovered that she, too, was poisoned with a morphine overdose.

Not the most difficult mystery in the world. Laura treated Mary like her own daughter; I suspected right away that that’s what she was. Enter Lewis and there you go. Who is the murderer? Well, only two real possibilities, the doctor who engaged Poirot’s services (not though that would rule him out) or Nurse Hopkins. The one would be motivated for love, the other for money. When needle marks are discovered on Hopkins’s arm it rather suggests she’s acquainted with morphine.

No inscriptions.

The Tuesday Club Murders (Agatha Christie, 1928)

A group of acquaintances meet on Tuesday. Each presents an unsolved mystery that they personally know the answer to while the others try to guess. Invariably, Miss Marple guesses right by connecting it to some local bit of intrigue — she’s lived in the village her whole long life, and however small, a single village is a microcosm for the world. But the Tuesday Club, really, is just a loose framework for a short story collection. Most are well under twenty pages, a few do go on longer. At the end, Miss Marple has a chance to put her money where her mouth is and solve the mystery of Rose Emmott: whether it was suicide or murder, if the latter, to find out who did it.

Inscription: Stamped on the front endpaper “Fisher’s Bookshop & Circulating Library” in blue ink.

The Rider of the King Long (Holman Day, 1919)

A large paper firm is trying to monopolize access to a river dependent on by the local loggers. The X.K. refuses to sell out and won’t be denied their water rights. Since her father’s death, Claire has been the head of the X.K. Donald Kezar is in love with Claire, but with her in power over the firm, he sees himself losing his power over her. He begins secretly sabotaging their operations — at last reaching that point that he’d rather see the X.K. out of business than in Claire’s hands.

Inscriptions: From the Stratton Public Library, in Stratton, Maine. First added to the collection in 1933, last checked out by H.S. Dexter in August 31st, 1953. Not a very fast reader — kept it out for six weeks, altogether.