The theft of a rare diamond from India throws an upper class family and their servants into disarray and suspicion.
Published in 1868 and taking place from 1847-48, The Moonstone is one of my selections for the Winter Classics Challenge and the Chunkster Challenge. I knew that it was the first novel to introduce the classic British detective character, but I was not prepared for how funny and satirical the book would be. Collins structures the book around a series of first-person narratives from various characters, and each one has a separate, distinct voice that shows them in all their idiosyncratic glory. They are so true to themselves that they are not aware that we could be laughing at their foolishness, particularly the odiously pious Miss Clack.
In terms of the mystery, well, modern readers will not find this to be a particularly satisfying or sophisticated story. A typical episode of “Law and Order” runs circles around this story, and it’s important to keep in mind that this book has not stood the test of time because of the intricacy of its plotting. Rather, it’s Collins’s keen understanding of human nature and his wickedly funny prose that make The Moonstone such a delight to read today. I would recommend this book to any younger reader enjoying Sherlock Holmes or Agatha Christie.
Here’s a list of the other Winter Classics participants who are reading The Moonstone: