Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The After House: Review

Many thanks to Ryan over at Wordsmithonia for bringing The After House by Mary Roberts Rinehart to my attention. Despite my love for vintage mysteries, I have only read one other book by Rinehart (The Window at the White Cat) back before my blogging days--and that one made no great impression on me. But I could not resist this one after reading Ryan's excellent review (link above will take you there).

Ralph Leslie, who has spent all his funds training to be a doctor, is just out of hospital and fresh out of cash. A bout of typhoid put him in the hospital and while he was recovering he watched a refit of Marshall Turner's schooner-turned-yacht. An intense longing for the sea takes hold of Leslie and as soon as he is discharged, he signs up as a steward for the yacht's first pleasure cruise. His job seems fairly easy, one could say smooth sailing, at first...until one sultry August night when his dream voyage becomes a nightmare of murder. One of the ship's officers disappears overboard. But the worst is yet to come. Before the night is over, three more will die at the hands of a murderer wielding an axe. With panic among the passengers and crew alike and a drunken owner in no condition to take charge, it is up to Leslie to remain calm enough to see the stricken boat back to shore and a murderer caught. IF he can stay alive long enough and that will prove to be no easy task.

I found Rinehart's writing, plotting, and use of atmosphere much more compelling in this outing than in my previous read. This is a very short book--but she uses the space well to build up a keen sense of the terror and shock those aboard the
Ella must have felt when murder was let loose in their midst. My only quibble was with the court scenes--a lot of rehashing of the story we had already been through. But it did reveal a few minor points that were useful to the final conclusion. Overall, a very enjoyable read. I'm glad I gave Rinehart another try and will certainly read more as they come along. Three and a half stars.


Shirley said...

Your review does this book justice, I think, in-so-much that I would love to read it!

I love to visit your site for mystery reviews. You always find the good ones!

Bev Hankins said...

Thanks, Shirley! I do love those vintage mysteries!

Ryan said...

I'm so glad you liked it. I'm wishing I had discovered her writing earlier. I will have another review posting tomorrow and I've already finished a 4th book of hers. I must say it beat out all three of the previous books.