Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library

The World at Your Fingertips
Posted:  Monday, January 8, 2018 - 11:00am

I love a mystery!

In my early teens I was invited to a friend's wedding in New York City. The groom's mother happened to be the housekeeper and cook for the author Mary Roberts Rinehart. I was already familiar with her 1908 book, “The Circular Staircase,” aka The Bat. What an honor it was to be given a tour of the Rinehart's Fifth Avenue apartment. Indian artifacts, oriental carpets, rare books and memorabilia spoke of Mary's world travels.

Mary Roberts Rinehart (1876-1958) started writing at a very young age, primarily short stories. She continued writing after her marriage to Dr. Stanley Rinehart and the birth of their two sons. During World War I Mary worked as a war correspondent for the Saturday Evening Post. After the war she started writing serious novels and was known as the American Agatha Christie. She was said to have been the originator of the phrase, “The butler did it!" The phrase came from her 1920 novel, “The Door.”

Often restless, Mary never could find a place of peace until she happened upon Bar Harbor, Maine. In 1937 she bought Fairview. Due to the spectacular view of the bay from her hilltop she changed the name to Eaglesgate. She used a Bar Harbor-like setting in her 1945 book, “The Yellow Room.” Her 1938 novel, “The Wall,” was also set in a disguised Bar Harbor scene. It was considered one of her best books, full of intrigue and murder and a love story. The Saturday Evening Post paid her a hefty sum for the serial rights.

A strange turn of events caused Mary to almost become a murder victim herself. While running from her would be assassin, a young man waiting at her front door stopped her to ask about employment. She was reported to have said, “I don't have time for this young man; someone is trying to murder me.”

Sadly, after a very hot, dry summer, a grass fire turned into a raging inferno and burned 17,000 acres and destroyed 250 homes, one of which was Mary's. The site that Mary's house had been set on is breathtaking, and considered historic. It is located in Bar Harbor on Eden St. where the Wonder View Inn is located today.

Some of Ms. Robert's books are still available in libraries today. Check our catalog or ask one of the staff to help locate one for you.

Happy reading mystery lovers.

Upcoming events

January Artist of the Month: Sally Giddings Smith

Minecraft Play Club: Wednesdays, 1:45-3 p.m.

Author Afternoon with Sandra Neily, “Nature-themed Mysteries & Thrillers and...Truth”: Saturday, Jan. 13, 12:30-2 p.m. (Weather date: Saturday, Jan. 20).

Story Hour: Fridays, 10:15 a.m. Hear a story with Miss Pam, make a craft, and sing a song. Ages birth to 5.