We are the Mary Roberts Rinehart Chapter of Sisters in Crime based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Sisters in Crime is an international organization of writers, readers, booksellers, librarians, agents, editors, reviewers, and teachers interested in promoting the work of women mystery writers.
The mission of Sisters in Crime is to “combat discrimination against women in the mystery field, educate publishers and the general public as to inequities in the treatment of female authors, raise awareness of their contributions to the field, and promote the professional advancement of women who write mysteries.”
We are all friendly, fun, and fascinating, but not all of us are female. Misters are welcome, too!
Who is Mary Roberts Rinehart?
Mary Roberts Rinehart —The American “Agatha Christie” – was born on August 12, 1876 in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania. Mary Roberts Rinehart started writing as a way to earn income after a heavy stock market loss in 1903. A trained nurse, wife and mother of three sons, prolific and dedicated to her art, she wrote The Circular Staircase in 1908. The book sold over a million copies and propelled Rinehart to national fame.
A regular contributor to the Saturday Evening Post, Rinehart served as the first woman war correspondent to the Belgian front during WWI. In 1929, she helped her sons found the publishing house Farrar & Rinehart, serving as its director. In hundreds of short stories, Rinehart developed enduring series characters like Letitia (Tish) Carberry and Nurse-Detective Hilda Adams (Miss Pinkerton). She is credited with inventing the phrase ‘The Butler Did It’ from her novel The Door (1930), and many of her books and plays were adapted into movies including I Take This Woman starring Gary Cooper and Carole Lombard (1931).
In 1947, Rinehart was involved in a bizarre personal drama at her Bar Harbor home. She was reading in her library when her Filipino chef Reyes came in, objecting to her orders. Pulling out a gun, Reyes shot her at point blank range. The gun misfired and Rinehart ran for help. A stranger standing at the door was looking for work. “Young man,” Rinehart reportedly said, “You’ll have to come back later. There is a man here trying to kill me.” Wielding a carving knife in each hand, the enraged chef attacked her again before being subdued by the other servants. Reyes was arrested, and hung himself in his cell. Rinehart paid for the funeral.
Recognizing her long contribution to the mystery field, The Mystery Writers of America awarded Mary Roberts Rinehart a Special Edgar in 1954. She died on September 22, 1958, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
On May 25, 1997, Mary Alice Gorman, then-owner of Mystery Lovers Bookshop, called the first meeting at the store to form a local Sisters in Crime chapter. She suggested famous, barrier-bustin’ Pittsburgh
writer, Mary Roberts Rinehart, be celebrated in the name of the chapter.
Mystery Lovers Bookshop was established in 1990 and has become the third largest independent bookstore in the U.S. The original owners, Mary Alice Gorman and Richard Goldman, were awarded Berkley Publishers Bookseller of the Year Award in 1995 and were recognized by Pittsburgh Magazine with an Excellence in Arts Award in the category of Spoken Arts in 1996.
In 1999 and 2003, they received a nomination for the prestigious Bookseller of the Year Award from Publisher’s Weekly Magazine. Pittsburgh Magazine has previously named Mystery Lovers Bookshop #26 in the list of 101 Things We Love About Pittsburgh and one of the Bests in Pittsburgh in later years. In 2010 they were honored with the Mystery Writer’s of America prestigious Raven Award in recognition of the support and dedication they have shown to the mystery community. They retired in 2012.
In June of 2012, Laurie Stephens took over ownership and management of Mystery Lovers. She continues the tradition of making the store a vibrant part of the Pittsburgh community, including continued support of Sisters in Crime, Pennwriters, and the annual Festival of Mystery, which attracts a multitude of authors from the crime fiction genre every year.
For more information on the bookstore, visit www.mysterylovers.com