The Moonstone was first published in 1868, and is considered to be the first detective novel ever written. Many people site The Moonstone as the longest piece of detective fiction in existence. I’m not an expert on this, but I do know that it took me a long time to read it! At 464 pages it only just classes as a chunkster, but I feel no guilt in counting it towards the Chunkster Challenge as the type was tiny!
The story takes place in an English country house, in which a rare diamond is stolen over night. The suspects are therefore limited, and a famous London detective is called in to investigate the crime.
The writing was easy to follow, but it was very dense, and so it was a slow read. For the majority of the book this wasn’t a bad thing, as I loved the descriptions, but there was a slow section in the middle, which I found hard to get through. It picked up towards the end though, and the it was very well plotted. I didn’t see any of the twists coming, and I liked the realism of it. There were also a lot of other issues raised during the book. SPOILER! Highlight text to read. I loved the beginning and ending in India, and the way Wilkie Collins challenged racial stereotypes by portraying the Indians as mysterious thieves, when they were the good ones all along.
I also found the opium factor interesting. I had no idea of it’s affects, and have since learnt that Wilkie Collins was writing from experience, as he had an opium habit.
I loved reading it so soon after The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher as I noticed all the similarities between the real murder at Road Hill and the theft of the moonstone. If you’ve read The Moonstone then it is worth having a look at this analysis – I found it very insightful. It contains lots of spoilers, so don’t click through if you’re interested in reading the book soon.
Overall, I enjoyed reading The Moonstone. It was hard work at times, but well worth the effort. As it’s the first ever detective novel I can’t not recommend it, everyone should read it at some point!