The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
I wanted to read this classic because it is generally considered the first detective novel in the English language, and as a mystery lover, I had to read it, right? It took me a while to finish but I enjoyed it.
The Moonstone is a large yellow diamond stolen from a sacred statue in India by an English officer. According to legend, three Hindu Brahmins, who have dedicated their lives to recovering it, will stop at nothing to retrieve it.
On her eighteenth birthday, Rachel Verinder inherits the diamond and the danger that goes along with owning it.
The dying Indian sank to his knees, pointed to the dagger in Hercastle’s hand, and said, in his native language:— “The Moonstone will have its vengeance yet on you and yours!”
She wears it to her party, but that night it is stolen from the drawer where she placed it. Suspicion falls on three Indian jugglers who had been in the neighborhood, on one of the servants who used to be a thief, and on Rachel herself who is acting quite out of character. Sergeant Cuff is called in to help solve the mystery, but, although he finds several, he is dismissed with no solution to the crime.
The book continues, leading the reader through a tangled plot of misunderstandings, lies, bad luck and murder, until, finally, the identity of the thief is revealed. Sergeant Cuff may have been a great investigator, but it takes an amateur, Franklin Blake, who is in love with Rachel, to finally solve the puzzle.
“Don’t waster your money and your temper—int he fine spring time of your life, sir—by meddling with the Moonstone. How can you hope to succeed (saving your presence), when Sergeant Cuff himself made a mess of it? Sergeant Cuff!” repeated Betteredge, shaking his forefinger at me sternly. “The greatest policeman in England!” (pg. 321)
Sergeant Cuff does return at the end and proves that he had an idea of what was going on, just couldn’t prove anything.
We learn the entire story through a series of narrators, each telling only what they knew at the time. Each has his or her own viewpoint, own strengths and weaknesses, own opinions on the events and the other characters. Some bits are downright funny.
This really is a good read, even for people who usually avoid the classics. The plot is interesting, if convoluted, and grabs your attention, never letting go. The characters are memorable, and the ending, though definitely a product of the time the book was written, was worth the build-up.
My copy was purchased and the above is my honest opinion. I am an Amazon associate.