The Swimming Pool

The Swimming Pool

by Mary Roberts Rinehart

Desperately afraid, Judith Chandler barricades herself in her bedroom.

Her sister, detective novelist Lois, has no patience for Judith's bizarre behavior.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Mystery
  • Rating: 4.00
  • Pages: 332
  • Publish Date: May 1st 2003 by Kensington
  • Isbn10: 0758205376
  • Isbn13: 9780758205377

Read the Book "The Swimming Pool" Online

This is a good, old fashioned Golden Age detective novel, quite an enjoyable one at that.

Mary Roberts Rinehart is an excellent suspense/mystery/romance writer. Lois Maynard lives with her older brother Phil at The Birches, the country home. Lois is a smart, highly capable woman who doesn't immediately fall into the muscular arms of Detective Terrence O'Brien, although, as is required of these books, she does fall in love with him rather quickly. The mystery of Judith's odd behavior and the murder of a police detective twenty years ago are connected and the investigation is very well done. O'Brien, the detective, is rather sensible (he thinks women have brains and should use them) but there's a psychiatrist in the book that Lois consults with because he has been counseling her sister. Older Review I've read this book many times and I always enjoy it. It's suspenseful, has a good mystery, and just a hint of romance.

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. 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 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 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. 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. 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. 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? 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". 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. 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. 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. 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.

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. 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. When the body of woman is found in the swimming pool, Judith and the entire situation gets worse. 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.

She's a mystery writer "Don't tell me," he said. Except that epoch of Judith's life is coming to an end: she one day tells her patrician husband she's going to Reno to get a divorce, and said husband asks Lois to accompany her which, reluctantly, she does. They're characters who are so well conceived and presented that they give every illusion that they were going about their business every day before the book, continued to do so during the book without deigning to take notice of the observer, and will certainly continue with their lives after the nosy reader has gone away.

My mom read this book in a day! My mom loves murder mysteries, so I can see why she liked this one!

The story of a wealthy family, before and after the great crash of '29, are always interesting to read.

While many of her books were best-sellers, critics were most appreciative of her murder mysteries.