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The Moonstone

The Moonstone - Wilkie Collins, Frederick R. Karl The Moonstone Diamond, originally stolen from the forehead of the Hindu moon god in India, goes missing in Yorkshire England in 1848--the night it is inherited by the thief's next of kin. Credited as the first modern English detective fiction novel, The Moonstone has many of the elements we’re now familiar with, including the bumbling local police, the eccentric yet skilled detective, and the amateur sleuth.

Written in the epistolary style, the loss and subsequent investigation of the Moonstone Diamond is revealed via journals and letters of multiple narrators. This gives a first hand account of events with no crucial information “hidden” from the reader. Each narrator brings his/her own unique perspective, which enhances the story immeasurably. The most memorable narrators to me are the house steward and the cousin. The house steward Gabriel Betteredge is a stuffy man whose bible is the novel Robinson Crusoe, and all events of importance in his life are portended in his readings of that book. It’s great fun to read his accounting, however my favorite narrator is cousin Drusilla Clack--I couldn’t stop chuckling while reading her section. She’s a hypocritical, preachy evangelical Christian who believes she can provide solace and salvation to her misguided relatives if only they would read the pamphlets and tracts she leaves strewn about the house—such as “Satan under the Tea Table”, “Satan in the Hair Brush”, and my personal favorite--one she gives for swearing--“Hush, For Heaven’s Sake!".

I really enjoyed this great work of detective fiction infused with both humor and social commentary. I can’t believe I’d never read this one, and I’m looking forward to reading The Woman in White.