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Considered the first full-length detective story in the English language, T.S. Eliot described The Moonstone as 'the first and greatest English detective novel'.
The stone of the title is an enormous yellow diamond plundered from an Indian shrine after the Siege of Seringapatam. Given to Miss Verinder on her 18th birthday, it mysteriously disappears that very night. Suspicion falls on three Indian jugglers who have been seen in the neighbourhood. Sergeant Cuff is assigned to the case and though it looks simple nothing can be taken for granted.
The story is recounted by several narrators including the bemused butler, the love-sick housemaid, the enigmatic detective Sergeant Cuff and the drug-addicted scientist, who in turn, speculate on the mystery.
This enthralling tale of romance, theft, and murder inspired the detective genre. In a sense, Collins wrote the rulebook on detective stories as many features of The Moonstone have become conventions in the literature of others.
Charles Dickens was a close friend and mentor of Collins, and the two collaborated together on drama and fiction. The Moonstone, as well as some of his other work, was first published in Dickens' journals.
Beginning his career on stage, Peter Jeffrey became a recognisable face on British television while enjoying thirty years with the Royal Shakespeare Company as well as working with all the other great British theatre companies. He was soon in demand for television character parts, playing roles in shows such as The Saint (1964-1965), The Avengers (1966-1968) and Doctor Who (1967 and 1978) as well as being involved in many BBC Radio 4 audio dramas such as The Pickwick Papers. Though a versatile actor, he was often cast in roles of authority such as Inspector Carter in Dixon of Dock Green (1966) but occasionally guest starred in comedy roles such as "Napper" Wainwright in Porridge (1975). He continued to act during his final years, with roles in the BBC adaptation of The Prince and the Pauper (1996), The Scarlet Pimpernel (1999) and Where the Heart Is (1999).
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Lucie on 01-03-09
An engrossing detective novel
I was attracted to THE MOONSTONE after reading (Hearing) Wilkie Collins" THE WOMAN IN WHITE. What is fascinating to me is how a book written over 140 years ago can be read eaily without footnotes to explain the significance of the events of the time. The characters and the action brought me into that time period with ease.
I plan to sownload every Wilkie Collins book that is available in Audible.com
22 of 22 people found this review helpful
By Yvette on 02-18-09
Great book wonderfully read!!!
I read this book years ago & loved it, but it is very long, so I have not read it since. I am VERY glad that I invested the time to listen to it now. The book is even better than I remember it. The author was a great talent & the reader's skill makes it a truely amazing listening experience. I whole-heartedly recommend this book & this reader to anyone who wants a quality, intelligent listen.
17 of 17 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Joanne on 06-29-08
An absolute gem
Please excuse the pun! This is the best audiobook I have ever listened to. Peter Jeffrey's reading is superb, bringing each character to life - from the trusted family butler Betteridge to the faintly ridiculous religous spunster Miss Clack. In terms of the story - it is superb piece of Victorian derring-do with a spirited young hero and heroine, a conspiracy involving mysterious foreigners, a lovelorn housemaid and opiuos use of laudanum. The writing is witty and sympathetic. The plot is complex, and though perhaps not as tightly plotted as a modern day thriller this would be enjoyed by lovers of detection fiction as well as fans of victorina.
46 of 47 people found this review helpful
By Choosy on 01-20-11
Wilkie Collins' best book, beautifully read by Peter Jeffrey. I had to look again at the description to double-check that it wasn't a dramatisation, so consistent and well-differentiated are his voices. A delight to listen to.
15 of 15 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Kimberley on 06-27-16
Wonderful reading of a classic detective novel
Would you listen to The Moonstone again? Why?
Absolutely. The Moonstone, set in 1848, tells the story of the famous yellow diamond, reputed to be cursed, that goes missing on the night Miss Rachel Verinder receives it as a gift on her eighteenth birthday. When Sergeant Cuff arrives to investigate the loss of the diamond, it soon becomes apparent that nobody in the house is above suspicion. It is a fine example of the classic detective novel, and was very enjoyable to read in audiobook format.
Who was your favorite character and why?
Gabriel Betteredge, particularly given Peter Jeffrey's reading. I felt like I had an old grandfather sitting beside me while he told the story of an interesting episode from his life while frequently meandering off track with entertaining asides. I also thought the inimitable Miss Clack's narrative was hilarious, even though she would be horrified to hear it and would no doubt force a religious tract (or ten) on me for such blasphemy.
What does Peter Jeffrey bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?
I originally read The Moonstone as a physical book several years ago and rated it around 3.5 stars. When I came to listen to the audiobook, however, I upgraded my rating to a full 5 stars, thanks largely to Peter Jeffrey's reading. An epistolary novel written entirely in first person, the text lends itself well to being read aloud and Peter Jeffrey does an excellent job of bringing out the humour that Wilkie Collins infuses into his narratives. His use of different voices for different characters (including Miss Clack) was very successful.
If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?
Beware, reader -- in taking up company with Sergeant Cuff there is a good chance you will catch a highly contagious ailment for which there is no cure: the detective fever!
Any additional comments?
Readers should be aware that The Moonstone is far more slow moving than Wilkie Collins' other well-known "sensation" novel, The Woman in White. If you are looking for something fast moving, perhaps try The Woman in White first. However, if you are looking for a great detective novel (in the tradition of Sherlock Holmes or Agatha Christie), this is an excellent and enjoyable offering from a master storyteller.