Back in the early years of the last century, long distance travel in the United States generally meant getting on board a train. If you could afford it, you would generally get yourself a bunk in a Pullman sleeper car, where upper and lower berths extended the length of the car, affording little privacy but a certain degree of comfort on an overnight journey. Of course, things could go wrong. And did. Which brings us to "The Man in Lower Ten," by Mary Roberts Rinehart, the subject of this week's book review on the Classic Mysteries podcast. You can listen to the full review by clicking here.
"The Man in Lower Ten" follows the adventures and misadventures of a lawyer named Lawrence Blakely, who is traveling by train to take a deposition in a major forgery case. Blakely is assigned to sleep in "lower ten" - the designation for a particular lower berth in the Pullman car. For a variety of reasons, he winds up sleeping elsewhere, which turns out to be a good thing, because the unfortunate man who does go to sleep in "lower ten" is murdered during the night - and suspicion falls on Blakely. The train is then wrecked in a disastrous crash...and the story goes on from there, as Blakely and his friends try to stay one step ahead of the police while attempting to solve the murder. It's mostly a thriller, with some detective work involved as well, and it's all great fun. Rinehart was enormously popular during the first half of the 20th century, coming up with very enjoyable mysteries and thrillers.
"The Man in Lower Ten" was first published in 1909, and it is my entry for a book published during the first decade of the 20th century in the ongoing Vintage Mysteries Reading Challenge at the My Reader's Block blog. I suspect most visitors here would enjoy it. While it's still available in regular print editions, I see that Amazon is offering a free eBook version for the Kindle. At that price, what are you waiting for?