Recommended Reads: The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
Diamond Crime author, Jacqueline Harrett has been re-reading The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins.
I recently started rereading The Moonstoneand found myself as enthralled as I had been when I
first read it many years ago. Although first published in 1868 it still keeps the reader engaged
throughout. The Moonstone, essentially about the theft and retrieval of a rare and valuable
diamond, was first serialised in the magazine, All the Year Round,before being published as a
Hailed by Sayers as “probably the finest detective story ever written” many of the elements in
The Moonstone can still be found in modern detective novels. The moonstone itself is a diamond
and intrigue added to the story with three Hindu priests determined to restore the stone to its
proper place in the statue of the Hindu god of the moon. The diamond is cursed, adding an extra
frisson of mystery to the story.
The crime, theft of the diamond, on Rachel Verinder’s 18th birthday is the inciting incident
leading to the quest for its return. What follows is epistolary in structure with the use of several
voices. The narrative twists and turns, aided by the testimony of the various characters. Several
people have motive and opportunity to commit the crime, providing a number of suspects so it
becomes a ‘whodunnit’ in every sense. This interplay between the characters and their different
voices adds to the pace of the novel and the intricacies of the plot.
The denouement occurs when the incompetent Superintendent Seegrave is replaced by Sergeant
Cuff with his stellar reputation, who, after deliberation, unravels the puzzle. As a classic
detective story but also as a masterpiece of storytelling, The Moonstone is highly recommended.
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