With this new year I could begin with an overview of books read last year, or show the many book hauls there have been, but for now I'd like to mention this fine Victorian book read years ago, 'The Moonstone' by Wilkie Collins, a very famous story written in 1868 which has been referred to as the first real detective novel. This is a rather intriguing tale with a mysterious atmosphere that keeps one engaged and wondering, and with some surprises at the end. The reader ponders on why Rachel Verinder behaves in such a perplexing way, and are people really as they appear? In the beginning, what are the suspicious Indian conjurors lurking around the house up to? The chapters consist of narratives by various characters in the story, beginning with good old Gabriel Betteridge, the House-Steward, who continually reads and quotes from his favourite book, 'Robinson Crusoe'.
Like with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes story of 'The Blue Carbuncle', a unique and highly desirable gem that has been the cause of murder and mayhem in its history, the Moonstone is also the object of desire for some who will stop at nothing to obtain it.
"The Moonstone, a priceless yellow diamond, is looted from an Indian temple and maliciously bequeathed to Rachel Verinder. On her eighteenth birthday, her friend and suitor Frankin Blake brings the gift to her. That very night, it is stolen again. No one is above suspicion, as the idiosyncratic Sergeant Cuff and Franklin piece together a puzzling series of events as mystifying as an opium dream and as deceptive as the nearby Shivering Sand." Penguin Classics 1998 edition
There have also been various adaptations of this story: a 1930s film, the 1972 BBC television series with Vivien Heilbron, Robin Ellis, Martin Jarvis, etc...; the 1996 television film with Keeley Hawes, Greg Wise, Antony Sher, etc...-all worth watching, though the last two mentioned are the best. Apparently there is a new version of it as well, which I've not seen.