First published in 1906, The Man in Lower Ten was apparently the first detective novel to appear on American best seller lists. I have to admit that I had never heard of Mary Roberts Rinehart, the “American Agatha Christise,” before this year’s Vintage Mystery Challenge, which is a shame. This book is a fun who-dunnit, with some clever, amusing characters.

What starts out at as a simple train ride for Lawrence Blakely soon turns disastrous. The attorney-at-law is hand delivering decisive documents in a criminal case, and finds himself on the other side of the law when he is mixed up in a murder. Someone is after Blakely and his papers, and he has to figure out who it is before he’s arrested for the killing.

There are just so many great pieces in the puzzle. We have a mix up in sleeping compartments, several mysterious women and a missing man, a train wreck, an amusing amateur detective. And of course the woman Blakely’s best friend hopes to marry, who is obviously mixed up in the whole situation, and who Blakely himself quickly falls in love with. Romance, mystery, danger, it’s got it.

I listened to the audio version of this, narrated by Rebecca Burns. The narration was well-done, although I was thrown at first by having a female reader for a book whose main character and narrator is a man. I don’t know that I’ve ran across that before.

Anyway, I am certainly glad that I discovered Rinehart and look forward to reading more of her stories.

The Man in Lower Ten is avalaible for the Kindle for free. You can purchase the paperback on Amazon or an Indie bookstore. Or scour your local used bookstore, there are always treasures there to find.

6 hours, 25 minutes
First published 1906

3½ out of 5 stars