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


  • I learned about Mary Roberts Rinehart from reading Carolyn Hart’s mystery, A LITTLE CLASS ON MURDER. It’s part of her Death on Demand series. Rinehart is one of the “Three Great Ladies of Mystery” that are featured in a college class. After that, I read THE CIRCULAR STAIRCASE and maybe one or two more.

  • I’ve never heard of the American Agatha Christie – that’s enough endorsement for me! Oooh, a mystery with a train ride in it, sounds like. I was just on an overnight train in a sleeper car and I was waiting for something Agatha Christie-like to happen. All went well, however. No dead bodies, no wrecks (thank goodness!)

    • Glad to hear your trip didn’t resemble a mystery novel. Although I have always wanted to take part in one of those “mystery weekends,” but haven’t yet.

  • I haven’t tried Rinehart yet. I didn’t realize she’d been called the “American Agatha Christie.” Hmmm. More to add to the TBR list.

    I’ve got you updated on the progress site. I’m so glad you’re enjoying the challenge!

  • I’m not sure how I managed to miss this review. I just posted my review for my second book by her, I have another read already, and I’m really enjoying her books. She obviously enjoyed what she was doing and it comes across on the page. I will have to get a hold of this book as well since I think I’m hooked on her now. Great review!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.