It was a drizzly day in late October. I had nowhere to be, nothing to do (aside from some Psych homework I was
ignoring mediating over), and an ever-growing to-be-read pile. So what else could I do but dig my favorite blanket out of the closet and grab the book at the top of the pile? The smell of paper, aged like fine wine, graced my nostrils as I studied the cover in the artificial light of my living room lamp. “Mary Roberts Rinehart” it read “Miss Pinkerton“. It had been a gift from a family friend who, knowing of my fascination with detective fiction, gifted me the novel and two others in the series. Opening the book, I began to read, and what a book!!
It starts with a phone call. Nurse Hilda Adams is fresh off an 18-hour shift and ready to go to bed and sleep for a day when the phone freaking rings. Cross and irritable (and for good reason too!) she reluctantly listens to Inspector Harlan Fuller as he details the sad fate of Herbert Wynne – a son of respectable parents that, upon their death, was sent to live with his aunt, Juliette Mitchell where there was no love lost between the heiress and the ne’er-do-well nephew – suicide was the suspicion, but the aging aunt needed a nurse and Harlan needed someone he could trust to keep an eye on the place. With much goading, Hilda abandons the idea of sleep and takes the job – that gets to the point where she almost sleeps for eternity (but we’ll get to that later).
With twist after turn, both Nurse Adams (sometimes called Miss Pinkerton by the Inspector) and the reader are sent on a journey throughout the Mitchell mansion – a dreary old place, decrepit from years of lack of finances – and throughout 1930s society. It seemed that Herbert Wynne had quite the insurance policy taken out ($100,000!!!!! Where did a no-good coaster like Herb get a sum of money like that?), one that would be left to his poor and sickly aunt upon his death – provided his death was not ruled as a suicide. Yet, the more that Hilda and the Inspector investigate, the more their stances change. One day they both think it a murder, the other he changes to suicide, and what about that gunpowder-stained piece of newspaper from the week before?
Whether you’re a mystery aficionado or just looking for a great whodunit to counteract a bleak autumn day, this is definitely one I would recommend. Just when you think that you’re going to solve it, Ms. Rinehart pulls out another loose end that you either forgot about or didn’t see coming. With a relatively limited cast of characters (the suspect list is a whopping nine characters), a death that could almost be pinned on our patient and wonderful heroine, and a gripping plot that is only solved within the last chapter – right after Nurse Adams is almost snuffed out like a candle in a wind gust (I won’t say how, and I won’t say by whom), not to mention Mary Roberts Rinehart’s signature “had-I-but-known” mystery style this book is great for just about any reader. I only give you one warning: once you start, you aren’t going to want to stop – I finished it within 24 hours – and that was only because I had to eat.
My favorite part? Probably the relationship between Nurse Adams and the Inspector. Their friendship, which may be a little more – at least on his end – had me shipping them so hard that I was looking for fanfictions about them (sad to say there were none 🙁). That in mind, the romances were written on point – which is probably not something that I should be saying about a mystery, but I’m going to. I know that there are a lot of great mysteries in which the romances were cute, and while I root for pretty much every romance, no matter what the book (I’m a bit of a romantic in that aspect… 🥰), I found myself refusing to even believe the possibility of one of the characters having committed the crime because they were way too adorably in love with the other person (yes, I’m purposefully trying to be vague so I don’t give anything away – is it working? 😉).
I don’t want to get cliché and rate it out of five stars or what have you, so… I’ll rate it out of these:
🔍🔍🔍🔍🔍🔍 <— possible ratings…
🔍🔍🔍🔍🔍 (.5) <—- Miss Pinkerton‘s score [I was going to give it a full six, but it was ever-so-slightly slow to warm up, so I had to take off half a point, but otherwise: ❤ ]
Bon lit et bienfaits beaucoups!
~ Vera Allen 💕