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Book Title: The Swimming Pool|
The author of the book: Mary Roberts Rinehart
ISBN 13: 9780758205377
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 8.58 MB
Date of issue: May 1st 2003
Read full description of the books The Swimming Pool:"The Swimming Pool"is a novel written by Mary Roberts Rinehart and published in 1952. Rinehart was an American writer, she was often called the American Agatha Christie, even though her first mystery novel was published 14 years before Christie's first novel in 1922. Although Rinehart wrote hundreds of short stories, poems, travelogues and articles, she is most known for her murder mysteries. There is no way I can't share this story; Rinehart maintained a vacation home in Bar Harbor, Maine, where in 1947 she was involved in a real-life almost murder mystery. Her Filipino chef, who had worked for her for 25 years, fired a gun at her and then attempted to slash her with knives, until other servants rescued her. The chef committed suicide in his cell the next day. Why in the world did he do that? Another mystery. I also think it is interesting that the phrase "The butler did it", which has become a cliché, came from Rinehart's novel"The Door", although that exact phrase does not appear in the work and I'm not telling you whether or not the butler really did do it, you'll have to read the book. But on to this book, "The Swimming Pool".
I'm not sure how to say what I didn't like about the book without giving away the mystery, but I'll give it a try. The story is very interesting, I was never bored, I was just frustrated. I love mysteries, but I love mysteries that I can figure out, or at least try to figure out the mystery. There simply weren't enough clues for me. The story begins with our narrator telling us about the swimming pool, this is the first line:
"One day last fall I ordered the swimming pool destroyed."
Our first person narrator is Lois Maynard. She is the youngest of four siblings, the oldest is Anne, then Phil, Judith and finally Lois, ten years younger than Judith. She tells us that they are leaving their family home "The Birches" where they have lived for many years, their asylum after the panic of '29. Lois and her brother Phil live there with two servants, Helga and Jennie. Anne is married to Martin Harrison an "unsuccessful architect" and Judith is married to much older and more important, much wealtier Ridge Chandler. Judith is beautiful and rich and famous, although I'm not sure what she is famous for, unless you are famous just for being beautiful and marrying someone rich. Lois tells us that as children, Judith was always popular, boys "gathered around Judith like flies" and their mother doted on her and could refuse her nothing. Everything seemed to be going along fine in their lives until the stock market crash of 1929, then they lost everything and their father shot himself in his office one night after one last dinner party. They had to sell their house in the city and their furniture and jewels and move to "The Birches" permanently. One of the things that puzzled me from the beginning, well from page 8 anyway was this:
"I know now it was Judith who wanted the pool, Judith to whom mother could refuse nothing. According to Anne, father objected."
So Judith gets her pool. Lois tells us that Judith either always got what she wanted or would sulk until she did. Just below this Lois tells us how Judith one day cut her long hair short and her mother was upset with her, then comes this:
"It suited her, however. It grew out into small blond curls all over her head, and she hated wetting it. Then, too, she swam badly. She could ride well. She could play the piano magnificently, but she hated the water. She was always afraid of the water. Perhaps that excuses her for what happened years later."
Now, if Judith was afraid of water and hated water, why in the world did she want a swimming pool? I'm still puzzling over that. Perhaps to give characters in the book something to throw things into, bodies or otherwise, it certainly happens often enough. However moving on, by the time of our story all the Maynard's are grown and Phil and Lois are still at the Birches which Anne calls "a shabby old ruin". Phil is a lawyer, and as Lois says "not a successful one" and Lois is writer of crime novels, also not all that successfully from what I gathered. At the beginning of our novel Judith decides to divorce her husband after twenty years of marriage, going to Reno for the divorce and taking Lois with her. I suppose the second mystery to me, after the why did she want a pool one, was why was she divorcing her husband? We are told she didn't love him, but she didn't love him twenty years ago either, so she certainly took her time leaving him. Now on the return train trip from Reno something "scares" her and she faints, then arriving at the Birches she locks herself in her bedroom never to emerge again. Well, almost never. She spends most of the book either locked in the room or running upstairs to lock herself in the room. She will tell no one what she is afraid of, she spends the entire book telling us that she won't tell us what she's afraid of. The only person in the book that seems to know what she is afraid of is the ex-cop who lives next door and he won't tell us either. I know by now she is afraid of taxi cabs which makes little sense to me because if what she is afraid of is a certain taxi-cab driver he certainly can't be in every city everywhere, so I personally wouldn't expect him to show up everywhere in every taxi.
Then there is the girl found dead in the swimming pool. She looks like Judith so almost everyone in the book assumes that whoever killed her thought she was Judith, including Judith. It would have been helpful to the police and me if she would have now told us why she thought someone would try to kill her, but no such luck. No one else bothered to share their thoughts on it either. The only two people who didn't seem to think that someone was trying to kill Judith was me and the detective, we thought Judith possibly killed the swimming pool lady, and I had no reason to think that, it was just a random guess. Oh, this made me smile:
"How's the book coming?"
"Book?" I said bitterly, "You don't write books in a lunatic asylum."
"She's not crazy Lois".
"Then I'm about to be."
This too I found amusing, Judith is sure they were trying to kill her, so she locks herself in the bathroom and slits her wrists:
"So she tries to hill herself!" he said. "That's jumping out of the frying-pan into the fire with a vengeance. I've been in this business a long time, Miss Maynard. I've seen a lot of death and some suicides. But I never heard of killing yourself to avoid being killed."
If only someone would have acted slightly suspicious I would have been having much more fun. If only taxi-cabs kept driving past the house, only in the middle of the night when it is raining of course. The servants spent all their time serving food and cooking food, if only they would have been sneaking in the house at midnight or down into the cellar at 3 a.m. Perhaps the therapist who seemed to be absolutely no help to Judith or anyone else would have smiled with a strange look on his face whenever her name was mentioned or stared at a mysterious statue on his desk, but no nothing. By the time anyone decided it may be a little bit helpful to share some of the clues they had with someone else so we could start piecing the whole thing together, I didn't care that much anymore. But that doesn't mean you won't enjoy it, so go ahead and read the book. Let me know why Judith insisted on having a pool in the first place.
Read information about the authorMary Roberts Rinehart (August 12, 1876-September 22, 1958) was a prolific author often called the American Agatha Christie. She is considered the source of the phrase "The butler did it", although she did not actually use the phrase herself, and also considered to have invented the "Had-I-But-Known" school of mystery writing.
Rinehart wrote hundreds of short stories, poems, travelogues and special articles. Many of her books and plays were adapted for movies, such as The Bat (1926), The Bat Whispers (1930), and The Bat (1959). While many of her books were best-sellers, critics were most appreciative of her murder mysteries.
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