The Circular Staircase - Mary Roberts Rinehart, Lester Ralph (illustrator) 1908 - The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Indianapolis - First Edition First edition, in which all goes wrong for a wealthy, middle-aged spinster renting a millionaire’s mansion for the summer holidays in California. Illustrated with one colour and six black and white plates by Lester Ralph.

This is Rinehart’s first successful novel and was wildly popular when it first came out in 1907. She went on to become America’s highest pad author before the war. It is the book which invented the ‘
Had I But Known It’ school of detective fiction, in which the principal character's actions have the effect of inadvertently prolonging the mystery and the action. Ogden Nash famously parodied this form of mystery writing in his poem Don't Guess Let Me Tell You: “Had I but known what I know now, I could have saved at least three lives by revealing to the Inspector what I heard through that fortuitous hole in the floor!”.
  Often referred to as the American Agatha Christie, Mary Roberts Rinehart (1876-1958) was an American journalist and writer who is best known for the murder mystery The Circular Staircase considered to have started the Had-I-but-known school of mystery writing and the popular Tish mystery series. A prolific writer, Rinehart was originally educated as a nurse, but turned to writing as a source of income after the 1903 stock market crash. Although primarily a fiction writer, Rinehart served as the Saturday Evening Post s correspondent for from the Belgian front during the First World War, and later published a series of travelogues and an autobiography.

Reference: Haycraft-Queen cornerstone. Symons,
Bloody Murder, 97. Haycraft, Murder for Pleasure, 87.

Octavo. pp. [6] 362. In publisher’s ribbed olive cloth, lettered in red and illustrated in black to spine and front board.
  Condition: Very good plus, rubbing along edges and corners, spine a little dulled, rear board with diagonal crease to cloth, one or two gatherings over-opened.   Ref: 109103   Price: HK$ 900