Mary Roberts Rinehart sets her 1909 mystery The Man in Lower Ten on a Pullman car. From there, she leads an unlikely hero down many wrong tracks, much to his discomfort and the reader’s delight.
Bachelor lawyer Lawrence Blakely hops a train to Pittsburgh to take a statement from John Gilmore proving Andy Bronson forged the millionaire’s name. While there, Blakely’s eye is taken by a photo of Gilmore’s granddaughter, Alison West.
On the return trip, Blakely is assigned to the lower 10 berth. He finds it occupied by a sound-asleep drunk.
The next morning the man in lower 10 has been murdered, the signed document is gone, and there are blood stains on the berth where Blakely slept.
Suspicion falls on Blakely.
When the train wrecks and burns, Blakely escapes accompanied by a woman who turns out to be Alison West. From there the plot thickens, twists, and turns before gliding gracefully to a halt.
With its gentle, quirky characters and period setting, The Man in Lower Ten practically begs to be made into a Masterpiece presentation. It’s witty, funny, and totally absorbing— everything a mystery ought to be.
Find a copy and watch it in your mind’s eye.The Man in Lower Ten By Mary Roberts Rinehart Rinehart, © 1909, 1947 B +
© 2009 Linda Gorton Aragoni