In The Breaking Point, Mary Roberts Rinehart skillfully weaves mystery and romance into a page-turner peopled with characters that feel like old friends by the novels’ end.
The mystery concerns Dr. Dick Livingstone, the nephew whom Dr. David Livingstone and his sister Lucy are grooming to take over his uncle’s practice.
Dick came east from Wyoming, went to medical school, and served in WWI. Recently he discovered Elizabeth Wheeler and is thinking of marriage. He has little memory of his life in Wyoming except for being tended by David during a long illness.
A rumor has reached town that the Wyoming Livingstone never married. Dick thinks he ought to make sure there’s nothing in his past to prevent him from marrying Elizabeth.
Dick takes Elizabeth to the theater to see Beverly Carlysle, an actress once involved with the profligate son of a multimillionaire rancher implicated in the murder of the actress’s husband. Carlysle’s manager-brother thinks Dick is Judson Clark whom authorities believed died in a Wyoming blizzard. A reporter realizes if the man is Jud, he has the scoop of a lifetime.
Dick heads west.
The reporter heads west.
Elizabeth waits anxiously at home.
Though mysteries are usually stronger on plot than characterization, Rinehart manages her far-flung cast so they not only appear on cue but also age and mature chapter by chapter. The characters are enveloped in the small town atmosphere that wafts from each chapter, making Rinehart’s sweet-tart ending feel entirely natural.The Breaking Point Mary Roberts Rinehart 1922 Bestseller #6 Project Gutenberg ebook #1601
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons photo of Mary Roberts Rinehart House in Pittsburgh’s Allegheny West Historic District where she lived with her family from 1907 to 1912 .