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The Swimming Pool Mass Market Paperback – May 1, 2003
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It's a re-working of Rinehart's THE YELLOW ROOM, which appeared during WWII. Both center around young women who have an older brother and a older, more glamorous sister. The families have been wealthy, but are now reduced to living in run-down summer homes. Both of the young women have been over-shadowed by cold, domineering mothers. In both stories, a mysterious woman is found murdered and turns out to be connected to the family in ways that implicate them in the crime. In both stories, the young heroine falls in love with the mystery man who's investigating the murder.
I'm surprised that I like the earlier book better because it's told in third person. This one is narrated by Lois Maynard and I usually like mysteries that are written in first person. Sadly,THE SWIMMING POOL is much too long and repetitious. It's an incredible 624 pages long (as opposed to 351 for THE YELLOW ROOM.) Rinehart's style always includes massive amounts of both fore-shadowing and past histories of the characters, but this goes over and over the family's past until I was exasperated.
The basic story is interesting and the characters are delightful. Lois Maynard is a likable woman and the brash, sometimes secretive New York cop she falls for is a charmer. Lois' 19-year-old nephew Bill is a wonderful addition. Rinehart was the mother of three sons and no one ever drew a more realistic or more entertaining adolescent male character.
If you're a Rinehart fan, it's worth your time. If you're just getting to know her, don't start here.
We find ourselves at The Birches, the old Maynard country house in Westchester, still grand but thoroughly dilapidated. Twenty-eight-year-old Lois is living there with her older brother Phil. He's an underachieving lawyer; she's writing crime fiction and just getting by.
The oldest sister Ann is living in genteel poverty with a husband and children. Judith, the rich, famous, fast-living beauty of the family, is about to get a divorce.
Spoiled first by her mother, then by her husband, Judith is not a family favorite. When she decides to stay at The Birches, that's it for peace and quiet. She moves into the best room, and has her windows nailed shut and new bolts put on her door. She acts like a person in terror of her life.
Not long after, the dead body of a woman who looks rather like Judith is found floating in the pool.
This is only the beginning of a plot rich in murder, blackmail, concussions, gunshot wounds and a great variety of deceptions and misapprehensions. Lois does some amateur detecting that only succeeds in making her look suspicious. On the plus side, she gets romantically involved with the manly Irish policeman who finally solves the case.
Other interesting characters include a hen who's also in love with the policeman - and a teenage nephew who's thrilled to be in the thick of a murder case and won't go home.
This really is a fun read, with a nice vintage aura.
I enjoy a good mystery and Mary Reinhardt delivered with this book and many more; The Wall, The Door.
This is one of the better ones!