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The Patient in Room 18 holds the distinction of being Mignon G. Eberhart’s first novel. Over the span of her 60-year career—during which she wrote 59 books—Eberhart would go on to become one of the highest-paid and most popular mystery writers. She was awarded the Mystery Writers of America’s Grand Master Award in 1971, and then served as the organization’s president six years later. But before all of that, she introduced the world to Sarah Keate, a nurse and an amateur sleuth who would later appear in six more of Eberhart’s works. In The Patient in Room 18, published in 1929, three people die in the titular room at the fictional St. Ann’s Hospital over the course of roughly a week, and Sarah must figure out why. The novel opens on a dinner party of hospital staff, during which a patient’s treatment is discussed. This patient (who stays, of course, in room 18) is being treated with $65,000 worth of radium, which suddenly disappears—turning suspicion toward the dinner party guests. The communal nature of the hospital and its doctors makes for a particularly suspenseful and unsettling reveal. —Laura Zornosa

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