Mary Roberts Rinehart (1876–1958) was one of the United States’s most popular early mystery authors. Born in Pittsburgh to a clerk at a sewing machine agency, Rinehart trained as a nurse and married a doctor after her graduation from nursing school. She wrote fiction in her spare time until a stock market crash sent her and her young husband into debt, forcing her to lean on her writing to pay the bills. Her first two novels, The Circular Staircase (1908) and The Man in Lower Ten (1909), established her as a bright young talent, and it wasn’t long before she was one of the nation’s most popular mystery novelists.Among her dozens of novels are The Amazing Adventures of Letitia Carberry (1911), which began a six-book series, and The Bat (originally published in 1920 as a play), which was among the inspirations for Bob Kane’s Batman. Credited with inventing the phrase “The butler did it,” Rinehart is often called an American Agatha Christie, even though she began writing much earlier than Christie, and was much more popular during her heyday.