About the Book
First published in the United States by Harper & Brothers in 1868, THE MOONSTONE is considered the very first detective novel in the English language. It tells the story of a young woman who inherits a large yellow diamond, and the intricate theft of the diamond the night of her eighteenth birthday party
During the Siege of Seringapatam in southern India in 1799, Colonel John Herncastle steals the Moonstone, a large yellow diamond, from the head of a Hindu god in a violent plunder. Jumping forward to 1848 England, Gabriel Betteredge, house steward of the Verinder estate, reveals that the famous stone has been left to Colonel Herncastle's niece, Rachel Verinder, in his will. She inherits the diamond on her eighteenth birthday, but it is stolen from her room that same night.
A highly valuable gem already shrouded in superstition, and now missing for fifty years, the moonstone creates a commotion the moment it arrives at the Verinder estate. Rachel wears the stone to her birthday party, but after it disappears from her room, suspicions and accusations start flying. Was it taken by the three Indian jugglers who have been near the house; by Rosanna Spearman, a maidservant who begins to act oddly and who then drowns herself in a local quicksand; or by Rachel herself, who also behaves suspiciously and is suddenly furious with Franklin Blake, with whom she has previously appeared to be enamored, when he directs attempts to find it? Despite the efforts of Sergeant Cuff, a renowned detective, the house party ends with the mystery unsolved, and the protagonists disperse.
The hunt for the diamond continues though, and the mystery is propelled by eleven different narrators directly related to the crime; as they reveal more details about the night of the party they complicate the diamond's recovery with unexpected twists and turns. Why are there rumors that the diamond may be in a London bank vault, what happened to Rachel's broken engagement to her cousin, Godfrey Ablewhite, and what are those Indian jugglers are still doing hanging around? Having been spurned by Rachel, Franklin Blake eventually returns to redeem himself by taking on the investigation again, but even then he's challenged by Rachel confessing her eyewitness account of Franklin stealing the diamond himself!
Filled with suspense, action, and romance, THE MOONSTONE is as riveting and intoxicating today as it was when it was first published more than a century ago.