Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Swimming Pool by Mary Roberts Rinehart

Synopsis From Back Cover:

Judith Chandler had always been the spoiled beauty of the family.  But in her glamorous, jet-setting life, something had gone wrong.  And now, for the first time she was afraid.  Desperately afraid.

With a deadline to meet on her detective story, Lois had no patience with her sister's strange behavior.  Except the mystery Lois was writing was not nearly as deadly as the mystery about to unfold.  For ravishing, willful Judith was about to disappear from her locked bedroom.

And by the pale light of morning, a woman's body would be found in the crystal blue depths of the swimming pool.

I'm wondering if you guys are getting sick of all the Mary Roberts Rinehart reviews lately.  Especially since they are all so close together and all I do is rave about them.  As of right now there is only one more after this one, so I promise to make this one short and sweet.  I wish I could tell you that this review was going to be different, but it won't be.  Actually this book so out performed the previous three books, I'm not sure what I can say about it.

First of all, the story was quite a bit longer than the others, being 330 pages.  That meant that Rinehart was able to flesh out the characters and the plot lines in ways I had not seen her do before.  Judith is a spoiled little rich girl who at a young age was basically sold off to an older man.  Her older sister Ann had already married, her brother Phil was getting ready to start college, and Lois her youngest sister was still young enough to not fully realise what was going on.  Their father had just committed suicide after the stock market crash and their mother, comfortable in the life she had, needed the money.

Judith was the darling of her mother's eye and that of everyone else.  So years later when Judith comes back home to The Birches, the families Summer home in the country when times were good and now Lois and Phil's only home, and tells Lois that she is divorcing her husband and going abroad, Lois is at her wits end.  She accompanies Judith to Reno to get the divorce and on the way back, things start to get scary.  She faints, as in fear, as she is boarding the train.  Lois is convinced she saw someone there, but has no clue who it was.

Back at The Birches, things slowly descend into chaos as Judith shuts herself up in her room.  When the body of woman is found in the swimming pool, Judith and the entire situation gets worse.  With the help of a policeman staying on the property, Lois is determined to find out why her sister is so scared and who killed the woman in the pool.

What Lois find outs will change her outlook and the way she feels about her family.  She will discover not only why Judith married her husband, but why Judith and her mother took a surprise vacation out of town right before it.  She will discover how a murder that happened when she was just a girl, ties into the events going on now.  This is a story of revenge gone wrong and fear so overwhelming that it clouds all judgement.  It's a wonderfully complicated, twisting story that kept me entranced the entire time.

Rinehart created such a complex series of events that occurred over such a long span of time that I never found myself bored, though I do now understand why she is credited with creating the "Had I But Know" plot device.  This, and the next book I will review, both star female protagonists that are given the all the information they need to know to solve the crime.  They never understand the significance of it at the time and almost always make decisions that prolong the outcome coming out.  Since the books are told from their viewpoints after the fact, they oftentimes mention that if they had but know what the meaning was or how things happened, the situation may have turned out differently.  Thankfully, they didn't know then what they know now.  Otherwise the story wouldn't be as entertaining and thrilling.

Challenges: M&S, VM


bermudaonion said...

I have to tell you I find that cover rather disturbing, but boy, does it date the book. I really do want to give Rinehart's work a try.

Bev Hankins said...

I don't think you're throwing too much Rinehart at us at all. I'm thoroughly enjoying your posts on her books!

Yvette said...

No, no, no, bring on all the Mary Roberts Rinehart book reviews you can write, Ryan. I'M LOVING THEM! Here's another one I haven't read.
I'm going to have to do some serious used books online searching to find this and the other titles you've mentioned. I realize now I've only ever read a very few of them.

Staci said...

I'm not sick of them at fact, I'm loving them. These are the type of books that I would more than likely pass up if on a library sale. Now, after reading your great reviews if I were to run across them tomorrow I would grab them up and laugh like a mad person to myself!!

Anonymous said...

I'm the same way when I find an author I love - I must have everything they've ever written. Of course, I usually have to wait for at least a year between books; this way you can feast to your heart's content.

Michelle Stockard Miller said...

I hope I find this one when I go on my quest for Rinehart books! I have my library sale Saturday and I'm going to look more closely at the older books to see if they might have any of her books. Great review!

Don't forget to stop by and read the story by Michelle Franklin and enter the giveaway. I know you don't have an ereader, but you could read them online. She is a big fan of The Belgariad series so you might like her stuff.

Ceri said...

Hun, review what you want to review. :) Go for it. Glad to hear you enjoyed this - the cover still freaks me out though. Haha.