|08-25-2008, 06:40 AM||#1|
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Collins, Wilkie: The Moonstone. v3, 25 Aug 2008
"The Moonstone", published in 1868, is widely regarded as the precursor of the modern mystery and suspense novels. T. S. Eliot called it "the first, the longest, and the best of modern English detective novels". The story concerns the theft of a large Indian diamond; it contains a number of ideas which became common tropes of the genre: a large number of suspects, red herrings, a crime being investigated by talented amateurs who happen to be present when it is committed, and two police officers who exemplify respectively the "local bungler" and the skilled, professional, Scotland Yard detective. The story is told through a series of first person narratives by the various people involved - before, during, and after the theft.
Wilkie Collins was the master of what were called at the time "sensation novels" - the precursor to modern "thrillers". These were the books that had refined young Victorian ladies "swooning", and requiring frequent recourse to the "smelling salts" . This novel was famed for its vivid depiction of the effects of opium addiction (Collins himself was addicted to opium, and wrote from personal experience).
A fabulous story. Both a classic and fun to read - what more could you ask for?
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