Bookshops devote many shelves to detective fiction. But the genre is a fairly modern phenomenon that began with Wilkie Collins’ classic The Moonstone, published 150 years ago this year.
Edgar Allen Poe had written detective stories, but Collins’ book was the first full length detective novel. It has been praised by T.S. Eliot as “the best of modern detective novels”, and by Dorothy L. Sayers as “probably the very finest detective story ever written”. Have you read it? It introduced many of the classic elements of an English crime novel – a country house setting, bungling local police, plenty of red herrings, and a final twist in the plot. The book has multiple narrators – I am especially fond of the butler Gabriel Betteridge, whose passion for Robinson Crusoe resembles my passion for Jane Austen’s Emma.
Why not celebrate this literary anniversary by reading The Moonstone, or watch one of the good TV adaptations.
Have you read The Moonstone? What is your favourite detective story? I’d love to hear your comment.
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