by Wilkie Collins.
One of my favorite boks of all time. Collins was a friend of Dickens, who acted in two lays written by Collins. Moonstone is described by T.S. Eliot as the first, longest, and best of English detective fiction. And rightly so.
Switching narratives as the story progresses, the book follows the Moonstone diamond’s capture from India, delivery to young English woman, theft, and recovery.
Two things really stand out: first is the quality of writing – excellent characters, all believable, most a bit absurd – excellent shift in voices with changing narratives, concise plot (Collins was criticized for placing too much emphasis on plot, though I’d rather read a good story than a good description); second is a plot that gradually narrows your suspicions, yet never actually solves it for you until the end. Very unlike Agatha Christie, for example, who tends to make a puzzle rather than a book.