Quote of the Week

"The key is to commit crimes so confusing that police feel too stupid to even write a crime report about them."
Randy K. Milholland, Something Positive Comic
10-30-03. Web Comic Pioneer

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

"The Moonstone" by Wilkie Collins

Wilkie Collins wrote "The Moonstone" in 1868 and is considered the 'father of the English detective story."  As a long time fan of mystery genre, I grew up loving police detective stories and remain a faithful fan.  I had always wanted to read this book based upon the allure of the famed old tale and getting back to mystery's roots.  The moonstone is a famed yellow diamond with a checked past. Supposedly taken from a monastery in India in the 18th century, the diamond fell in and out of possession of a variety of English families.  When the diamond is bequeathed to a young noble woman upon her 18th birthday, the valuable diamond immediately goes missing.  The remainder of the story goes step by step and voice by voice of the people who were involved with the family, the servants, the guests, and the police.  The story begins to be dissected as only a great detective would do.  The story at times gets bogged down. But that is a 21st century mind reading a 19th century book.  You often think the obvious and that for sure you know who dun it.  This book abounds in red herrings.  But Collins is masterful in creating doubt along the way.  This is considered one of his best works.  As a contemporary and friend of Charles Dickens, there are critics who think that Collins is as good a writer.  I loved the book and found a true mystery with great old fashioned police work with deduction and reasoning as the clearest path to solving the crime a refreshing change. Often in the 'old days' a mystery was not just about murder, but maybe an abduction or a masterful theft.  This book sets forth a blue print for the writers who would come after as step by step and interview after interview the story unfolds.  The other thing this book is known for is what is called the 'locked door' or 'locked room' mystery.  A murder or theft happens in a supposed locked room and there is no apparent rhyme or reason for the event to have occurred.  I won't spoil  the ending for you as this part of the mystery is revealed to the reader.  I am taking a departure from our trip around the USA to post this book for two reasons.  Reason one it is a mystery classic and ground breaking for it's day and time.  I wanted to encourage our readers and followers to also read this great book especially if you are a fan of the British mystery greats of today.  Secondly, I am taking part in the "Sarah Reads Too Much" blog challenge for classics for 2013.  Sarah has set a high bar and this fits the category of reading of a 19th century novel not only for her, but for myself.  This book remains today in many advance school curricula and is available in almost any format that you find yourself reading  today.  Also check libraries and Netflix for many versions of this story made into movies and miniseries.


  1. Interesting, I've never heard of this classic but your thoughtful review makes me want to read it. As a kid, I used to love Agatha Christie and mystery novels. As an adult, I haven't read much mystery but would love to again. Found you through the Back to the Basics Challenge, I am participating as well.

  2. I really enjoyed this! Have you read The Woman in White (also by Wilkie Collins)? It is too a great read. Also, if you haven't already read them, I really recommend the Jackson Brodie series by Kate Atkinson. I loved them a lot!
    ~ Ruby @ http://feedmebooksnow.blogspot.co.uk