I would like to warn people...if you read The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher and/or know anything about Wilkie Collins then ending could be given away. Might I suggest not researching this book, and might I also suggest not reading the Whicher book first as it talks about the Saville Kent murder (a case that mirrors so closely the story of The Moonstone that I had no trouble guessing most of the Collins book a section into the narrative).
I want to look at this book stylistically, as a detective novel, and in comparison to the Kent murder.
The story of the theft of the Moonstone, a large yellow diamond stolen from the forehead a mystic Indian statue, is told from the stories and notes gleaned from 11 different characters and I suppose if you didn't just allow yourself to go on the adventure this could be quite tedious. At the behest of Franklin Blake, each narrator has something to tell and each narrator in his or her own way sets out many red herrings as to who might have taken the diamond. The chief narrator is Betteredge a long-time servant of the Verinder family. Although he is the chief narrator he is the most unreliable of the lot and I spent most of the time he narrated digging through his interpretations to find the truth. Please know he doesn't lie, he just sees things differently. The most annoying narrator would be Mrs. Clack as she is blindly and hypocritically religious. All the narrators vary in character and tone (for this I give Collins much credit), my favorites are Franklin Blake, who I suppose is the hero of the tale, Mr. Bruff, the lawyer and Ezra Jennings as they tell the story in a straight forward manner. Once you get to the conclusion of a certain narrative I promise you that you'll want to read on to the end.
As A Detective Novel
This book is considered by many to be the epitome of the detective novel and I can totally see why, written many years before the first Sherlock Holmes, Sergeant Cuff is definitely the prototype for all detectives hence. Cuff enjoys growing and talking about roses, he is quick to offend as his gruff manner is offensive to some, and he knows the culprit years before the others. He is smug enough about it to write the name of the thief on a sheet of paper and seal it in an envelope for others to read after they figure it out. He deduces aloud, makes conclusions that others don't agree with, but in the end knows the truth better and more thoroughly than anyone. If Betteredge is good at throwing out red herrings, all the reader as to do to combat this is read what Cuff has to say. Just like most detective novels, this book at three major plot twist, the final one is the most impressive. We also learn that any character could be the culprit, and that things get bumbled by the local police.
In comparison to the Kent Murder
In 1860, three year old Saville Kent was taken out of his bed in the middle of the night and murdered. The only evidence was a smear of blood on a night gown and the fact that the timing indicated that it was committed by someone in the house. While the theft of a diamond in no way compares to the murder of a child these stories share many similarities, in both the biggest evidence was a smear on a night gown, both were committed by someone in the house, both were committed without an accomplice of sorts, both would have been solved earlier had the people in the house understood that it was an inside job. The final comparison is the most important, Detective Whicher is the model for Sergeant Kent and both had to wait years to be told they're assumptions were correct.
This book is loads of fun and I can't wait to read more by Collins.
If you can't tell I enjoyed this book immensely!