The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I guess a review of this requires me to say that Wilkie Collins' The Moonstone is one of the first mystery novels ever written. Now that I've got that out of the way, let's get on with the review.
This English drama/mystery started out great. It also started out much the same way many English drama/mysteries of the period would start out: in the manor house. It also used the popular-in-its-time epistolary form of storytelling, with about a half dozen characters taking up their pens to relate their portion of this story.
What is the story? Well, it starts off like an adventure with a mysterious diamond discovered in a faraway land. The diamond is passed down as inheritance and then it is stolen. Lovers are torn asunder and the mystery of the missing diamond must be solved if love is to prevail.
In fact, love plays a large roll in this, so large actually that I'm inclined to call it a romance as much as a mystery. If memory serves, it is even referred to as such as a subtitle, as in The Moonstone, a romance.
Regardless, if you've come solely for the mystery you'll be disappointed in much of this. As I say, it started out great. The first quarter or so of the story is related by the butler and much of his portion of the tale involves the facts of the case. He's also a colorful character, who it seems Collins enjoyed writing about. After him, we move on to less charming characters such a fanatic Christian, a lawyer, a physician, detective and one of the principle suspects involved in the disappearance of the diamond.
The faults, for me, in this novel are its overlong explanations, its unnecessary sidebar storylines, occasional repetition, and the time spent dwelling on the mundane. Many scenes could have been easily reduced, some could have been dispensed with all together, and the book would've been all the better for it. All in all, it's not horrible. I'd put it in league with Dickens' middling work. Not worth rushing forth to read, but I wouldn't dismiss it altogether.
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