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.