Friday, July 02, 2010

The Moonstone (book review)

A book review from The Movie Snob

The Moonstone, by Wilkie Collins. I had long heard of this 1868 novel, but I didn't really know anything about it until I bought this "Wordsword Edition" paperback at Half-Price Books for a dollar. It's a mystery, and according to a back-cover blurb by T.S. Eliot, it is "[t]he first, the longest, and the best of modern English detective novels." At 434 pages, it is certainly plenty long, but I enjoyed it well enough or I would never have finished it. The Moonstone is a huge diamond from India, captured by a British soldier during the conquest of India and sacred to the "Hindoos" as Collins refers to them. The possessor of the Moonstone wills it to his niece Rachel Verinder, and it is given to her at a party on the evening of her 18th birthday. That very night, it is stolen! Was it taken by the mysterious Indian jugglers who had been seen in the neighborhood? Or one of Rachel's relatives, or servants, or Rachel herself? A detective who bears some resemblance to Sherlock Holmes is called in on the case, but circumstances prevent a prompt resolution. Anyhow, it's undoubtedly a little corny by today's standards, but I liked it. I also enjoyed the introduction by some British professor guy, which I read after I had finished the novel. For a dollar, it was well worth the price.


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