The Moonstone

This is a classic, sometimes considered one of the great grand daddies of the detective novel. It is written in the kind of Victorian prose one might expect from its publishing date in 1864. Ornate, roudabout, full of graciousness and condescension. (In particular the chapter written by the good Christian Lady Miss Clack who is horrified that her constant leaving of Christian books around the houses of the other characters seems to bear no fruit–indeed causes them to heap abuse upon the poor, forgiving woman).

So at times, as a modern reader, it got to be a bit much. I would skim over some of the longer phrases to get to the meat of the matter, which is this: at a birthday dinner in the country of a Miss Rebecca Verinder, one of her birthday presents, a famously cursed diamond from India called the Moonstone, is stolen.

What follows is the recounting of a years’ worth of events that bring to light the motivations and deeds of those folks at the dinner party, and also involve the question of who Miss Rebecca should marry as well as the fates of three suspicous Hindoo gentlement passing themselves off as itinerant jugglers.

Told in the voices of a faithful servant addicted to tobacco and Robinson Crusoe, a pompous Christian minor relative off Miss Rebecca, a fatherly lawyer, and Miss Rebecca’s love, the fine young Mr. Blake whom is the prime suspect, the story unfolds slowly and pleasurably (with the faint stain of the morays and attitudes towards Indians and women of that time) through the various viewpoints.

It’s a book to read curled up in front of the fire with a glass of wine or brandy and savor as an aged delicacy, especially if you are fan of Dickens or Sherlock.

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