Friday, June 27, 2008

Review: The Moonstone, by Wilkie Collins

I first read The Moonstone about five years ago, and recently picked it up for a second time after reading The Thirteenth Tale, a modern book that was inspired by another Wilkie Collins novel, The Woman in White. Said to be the first "cozy" British mystery, The Moonstone features lost jewels from exotic places, a suicide, and the ever-present bumbling country detective. The tale of the Moonstone is a watered-down version of the Road Hill House murder, which had taken place eight years earlier.

A cast of characters converge on Lady Verinder's country estate to celebrate the 18th birthday of her daughter Rachel. Franklin Blake, her cousin, comes from London to deliver the Moonstone, a jewel bequeathed to her by a relative who fought in India and claimed the stone during a raid fifty years before. During the night after the party, the stone goes missing, and suddenly everybody behaves suspiciously, especially Rachel, who Sergeant Cuff suspects of stealing the Moonstone, and a servant girl named Rosanna Spearman. Added on top of the mystery is the presence of three strange Indians. What's their role in the case? And who really took the Moonstone?

The ending surprised me twice, not least because of the way in which the mystery was revealed. Told from the perspective of Franklin Blake, loyal servant Betterige, a spinster relative, a lawyer, and others, this book is the ultimate in detective fiction. Although hard to plod through at times, I loved this book.

Also reviewed by: A Striped Armchair, A Garden Carried in the Pocket, Books I Done Read, A Guy's Moleskin Notebook, Book Nut, S. Krishna's Books, Kay's Bookshelf, Things Mean A Lot


jenclair said...

I loved The Moonstone and The Woman in White when I first read them years ago. Thanks to Carl's RIP challenge, I've reread them both in the last couple of years and was pleased that I could enjoy them again. Especially The Woman in White!

Amanda said...

Great review! I've been wanting to read Moonstone after I read The Woman in White this year. I really enjoyed it and loved how the story was narrated by different people. I too think that Wilkie Collins sometimes drags the story out but overall a great story teller. I'll have to read Moonstone now.


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