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The Moonstone

Wilkie Collins

Book Overview: 

The story concerns a young woman called Rachel Verinder who inherits a large Indian diamond, the Moonstone, on her eighteenth birthday.

The book is widely regarded as the precursor of the modern mystery and suspense novels. T. S. Eliot called it ‘the first, the longest, and the best of modern English detective novels’. It contains a number of ideas which became common tropes of the genre: a large number of suspects, red herrings, a crime being investigated by talented amateurs who happen to be present when it is committed, and two police officers who exemplify respectively the ‘local bungler’ and the skilled, professional, Scotland Yard detective.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Upon my honour, Betteredge, I think she must be wrong in the head! She said, 'They will never find the Diamond, sir, will they? No! nor the person who took it—I'll answer for that.' She actually nodded and smiled at me! Before I could ask her what she meant, we heard your step outside. I suppose she was afraid of your catching her here. At any rate, she changed colour, and left the room. What on earth does it mean?"

I could not bring myself to tell him the girl's story, even then. It would have been almost as good as telling him that she was the thief. Besides, even if I had made a clean breast of it, and even supposing she was the thief, the reason why she should let out her secret to Mr. Franklin, of all the people in the world, would have been still as far to seek as ever.

"I can't bear the idea of getting the poor girl into a scrape, merely because she has a flighty way with her, and talks very strangely," Mr. Franklin went on. "And yet if. . . Read More

Community Reviews

The Moonstone is known as the first detective novel*, and it's a cracking one. You can see things invented here that were directly borrowed by future writers: Holmes' overconfidence (and his use of London urchins as agents); Agatha Christie's exploration of narrative reliability.

* as opposed to...more

Though Wilkie Collins was long-time friends with Charles Dickens, they had drastically different writing styles, and suffered some rough patches in their relationship. In a letter to someone, Dickens talks about his thoughts on The Moonstone: "The construction is wearisome beyond endurance, and t...more

I was torn between giving two stars and three stars to Wilkie Collins's "The Moonstone," a book T. S. Eliot called "the first, the longest, and the best of modern English detective novels." "Longest" is perhaps the operative word here, reminding one of Samuel Johnson's comment (speaking, in his c...more

The Moonstone was published in 1868 and is considered by most people to be the first detective novel. Given the novels place in the history of the genre, that alone should put this book on most people's reading lists. To sweeten the pot, the plot is compelling, the last hundred pages I couldn't...more

The problem with mysteries – for me, anyway, is that I don't care who did it. Which is a drawback. I just think well, it's one of those characters the author has given a name to, it won't be the fourth man back on the upper deck of the omnibus mentioned briefly on page 211. It will be someone wit...more

Με την έναρξη του βιβλίου, εμείς οι αναγνώστες γινόμαστε γνώστες του ότι στο συγκεκριμένο χρονικό σημείο, το έγκλημα έχει γίνει και ήδη έχει εξιχνιαστεί. Η ανάγνωση που θα ακολουθήσει είναι οι διηγήσεις των προσώπων που έγιναν μάρτυρες της πολύπλοκης αυτής ιστορίας, τις οποίες έγραψαν έπειτα από...more

The following is a recently found letter written by the English author Charles Dickens to his friend Wilkie Collins concerning the latter’s newly released 1868 novel The Moonstone:

Charles Dickens
11 Gad’s Hill Place
Hingham, Kent
England

November 13, 1868

Dear Wilkie,

I am now pressing my pen against...more

“I am (thank God!) constitutionally superior to reason. [...] Profit, good friends, I beseech you, by my example. It will save you from many troubles of the vexing sort. Cultivate a superiority to reason, and see how you pare the claws of all the sensible people when they try to scratch you for y...more

4.5 stars, rounding up, for this 1868 Victorian-era mystery, often considered the first English-language detective novel. Wilkie Collins spins a literary web that starts out slowly but then inexorably pulls you in; I finished the last half of the book in one extended readathon. He has a gift for...more

The Moonstone, generally recognized as the first detective novel (despite the appearance of The Notting Hill Mystery a few years before), is not only a work of historical importance but also a work that transcends the genre it created, in the artfulness of its plotting, in its compassionate depic...more

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